For many California residents, filing taxes is a requirement, but there can be some exceptions based on income and other factors. Individuals or families who do not earn a significant gross income may not have to file a federal income tax return, but there can still be advantages to doing so. OC Free Tax Prep can help offset the costs of filing for low-income households and ensure families are maximizing their return potential.
California residents are gearing up for tax season. Though the deadline to file is May 17, 2021, it is not too early to start gathering necessary documents. A big question on some people’s minds, however, is whether they even need to file taxes if they did not have significant income.
Income Filing Requirements
Most people are required to file a state return in California, even with minimal income, but what about a federal return? The answer depends primarily on your age, income, and filing status. Here is a basic breakdown for filing:
|IF your filing status is . . .|| AND at the end of 2020|
you were* . . .
|THEN file a return if your gross|
income** was at least . . .
65 or older
|Married filing jointly||under 65 (both spouses)|
65 or older (one spouse)
65 or older (both spouses)
|Married filing separately||any age||$5|
|Head of household||under 65|
65 or older
|Qualifying widow(er)||under 65|
65 or older
In addition, if you are self-employed, received a 1099-MISC form, or received an advanced tax credit through the California state or federal healthcare marketplace, you may be required to file a tax return
Should You File a Tax Return if You are Not Required to File?
Just because you don’t meet the gross income requirements to file does not mean you should not file. You may be eligible to receive a refund or cash back tax credits. For instance, low-income families may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) federally, and the California EITC on their state tax return. This can pay anywhere from $243 to $6,728.
Additionally, the Golden State Stimulus can only be claimed by filing your 2020 tax return. If you earned less than $30,000 and qualify for the CalEITC, you can get a $600 payment from the Golden State Stimulus along with any other cash from tax credits you are eligible to claim.
It is a good idea to talk with a tax professional to determine your filing status and whether you are required to file or could benefit from doing so anyway. Orange County United Way’s OC Free Tax Prep helps qualifying households in Orange County file taxes for free and maximize their returns. Tax volunteers help educate families on available tax credits and refunds they may be eligible for and assist with accurately preparing and filing tax documents. The tax refunds received help residents save for the future, pay down debt, and afford basic necessities. Learn more by visiting ocfreetaxprep.com.