If I understand correctly, I'm not required to file a tax return if I made under a certain amount of money as a dependent student. I did not hit that requirement, so I don't think I need to file a return. But I got paid in cash, so I was wondering if I am still supposed to fill out the 1099 form, because there would not be much of a point, as the income that I would report on the 1099 would not be taxed anyway.

additional info from a duplicate question:

So I'm in what I think is a unique situation here. I just got my first "real job" as a summer intern, and I need a security clearance. So I'm filling out the SF86 form, and one of the questions is have I ever not filed or payed taxes when required to by law. I have never filed a tax return. All of my jobs have consisted of me working for my dad over the summer, or refereeing a few youth hockey games per week for my township during the winter. In both cases I was paid in cash. I never made enough money to have to file a tax return (~$6000 per year as a dependent), so I'm assuming I'm fine?

2 Answers 2


You are correct that you do not need to file under a certain circumstances primarily related to income, but other items are taken into account such as filing status, whether the amount was earned or unearned income (interest, dividends, etc.) and a few other special situations which probably don't apply to you. If you go through table 2 on page 3 and 4 of IRS publication 501 (attached), there is a worksheet to fill out that will give you the definitive answer.

As far as the 1099 goes, that is to be filed by the person who paid you. How you were paid (i.e., cash, check, etc., makes no difference). You don't have a filing requirement for that form in this case.


  • Thank you for the response. So if I understand this correctly, the IRS sort of just hopes I will be honest and file if I pass the threshold? Because I was paid in cash so they don't really have a way to know if I made less than the amount required to file (I did).
    – VG3
    Mar 18, 2017 at 0:20
  • Well, practically speaking the IRS has a harder time tracing cash than if you were paid by check, but people (not you) seem to have the opinion that if they are paid in cash it's not taxable which is not true. Income is income and if the IRS decides to take a look at a return/situation, there are ways they could uncover a cash payment (from the payee for instance). The important thing is that if you are under the filing requirement you don't have to file. If whoever paid you sends you a 1099 for less then $600 that is their error.
    – mikeford
    Mar 18, 2017 at 1:14
  • 2
    The key may be item 3 in table 3 "You had net earnings from self­employment of at least $400. (See Schedule SE (Form 1040) and its instructions.)" Mar 18, 2017 at 10:44

It is true that with a job that pays you via payroll check that will result in a W-2 because you are an employee, the threshold that you are worried about before you have to file is in the thousands. Unless of course you make a lot of money from bank interest or you have income tax withheld and you want it refunded to you.

Table 2 and table 3 in IRS pub 501, does a great job of telling you when you must.

For you table 3 is most likely to apply because you weren't an employee and you will not be getting a W-2.

If any of the five conditions listed below applied to you for 2016, you must file a return.

  1. You owe any special taxes, including any of the following.

    a. Alternative minimum tax. (See Form 6251.)

    b. Additional tax on a qualified plan, including an individual retirement arrangement (IRA), or other tax­favored account. (See Pub. 590­A, Contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs); Pub. 590­B, Distributions from Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs); and Pub. 969, Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax­Favored Health Plans.) But if you are filing a return only because you owe this tax, you can file Form 5329 by itself.

    c. Social security or Medicare tax on tips you didn't report to your employer (see Pub. 531, Reporting Tip Income) or on wages you received from an employer who didn't withhold these taxes (see Form 8919).

    d. Write­in taxes, including uncollected social security, Medicare, or railroad retirement tax on tips you reported to your employer or on group­term life insurance and additional taxes on health savings accounts. (See Pub. 531, Pub. 969, and the Form 1040 instructions for line 62.)

    e. Household employment taxes. But if you are filing a return only because you owe these taxes, you can file Schedule H (Form 1040) by itself. f. Recapture taxes. (See the Form 1040 instructions for lines 44, 60b, and 62.)

  2. You (or your spouse if filing jointly) received Archer MSA, Medicare Advantage MSA, or health savings account distributions.

  3. You had net earnings from self­employment of at least $400. (See Schedule SE (Form 1040) and its instructions.)

  4. You had wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church­controlled organization that is exempt from employer social security and Medicare taxes. (See Schedule SE (Form 1040) and its instructions.)

  5. Advance payments of the premium tax credit were made for you, your spouse, or a dependent who enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. You should have received Form(s) 1095­A showing the amount of the advance payments, if any.

It appears that item 3: You had net earnings from self­employment of at least $400. (See Schedule SE (Form 1040) and its instructions.) would most likely apply.

It obviously is not too late to file for 2016, because taxes aren't due for another month. As to previous years that would depend if you made money those years, and how much.

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