Even if your children are young enough to be considered dependents, that doesn’t mean they won’t have to pay federal or state income taxes. Like adults, income earned by minors is considered taxable. If you are wondering whether your child needs to pay taxes and file a tax return, here’s what you need to know.
When Do Minors Have to Pay Taxes?
As with adults, minors have to pay taxes when their income exceeds the standard deduction or exemption. This is true regardless of whether they’re considered a dependent and can apply to both federal and state taxes.
Generally, there are two types of income that may result in minors needing to pay taxes. First, there’s earned income, which is typically money that comes from a job. With this, a child is only considered to have taxable income on a federal level if their earnings exceed the standard deduction, which is set at $12,950 for 2022. The threshold for owing state income taxes can vary, so you’ll need to check your state’s exemption amount to determine if they’ll need to pay.
Second, minors may have unearned income. Usually, this is money relating to investments or savings, such as interest or dividends. With this, the exemption is only $1,150 for 2022. Anything above that is potentially taxable.
Do Minors Get Taxes Taken Out of Their Paycheck?
If your child works for a traditional employer, taxes are often taken out of their paycheck. Most employers use the same process to ensure they meet legal requirements regarding withholding, so they treat all employees the same in that regard, no matter their age.
Like adults, minors complete Form W-4. On that, they can use the form to alter what’s withheld, allowing them to essentially have less removed than would be standard for their earnings. If a minor knows they won’t cross the standard deduction amount with their earnings, this could help them limit the amount that’s taken out of their paycheck. However, if they may exceed the threshold, that strategy could cause them to under withhold, which would leave them owing money when it was time to file.
Additionally, unless a child works for a company owned by their parents, FICA taxes – those covering Social Security and Medicare – are removed from their paycheck. There are no available exemptions to these taxes, aside from the aforementioned case of them working for a parent’s business.
Do Minors Have to File Taxes?
Technically, minors that earn less than the standard deduction and all of their income has already been reported to the IRS aren’t required to file their taxes, as they don’t owe any money to the government. However, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t file, either through a parent’s return or on their own.
Many employers remove taxes from the paychecks of minors. If your child had taxes deducted, filing their taxes allows them to receive a refund. Without filing, that money isn’t returned, which makes submitting their tax information during the filing period essential.
For minors that earn more than the standard deduction, filing their state and federal taxes is essential. In that case, they do owe federal and state taxes. Even if their payroll deductions cover what’s owed, they need to file to formally settle the amount and either pay any additional amount owed or get a refund on the excess.
Additionally, minors that earn tips that aren’t reported to the IRS through their employer – something that’s more common with cash tips that go unrecorded by the company – they’ll need to file regardless of how much they’ve earned. That ensures that FICA taxes owed on the tip money are collected.
Finally, self-employed minors need to file their taxes if they make more than $400 in profit. Additionally, if the amount of tax owed is expected to exceed $1,000, then making quarterly tax payments is essential.
How a Minor Needs to File Taxes
There are technically two approaches a minor might have to use to file their federal taxes. First, if they make more than the standard deduction, they have to file their own return, regardless of age. Generally, minors with self-employment income should also file separately. Per the IRS, children who can’t handle the task on their own can receive assistance from a parent or guardian.
For earnings below that threshold, parents can report the income on their tax return instead. This ensures it’s properly tracked. Thus, any potential refund is capturable without the complexity of having a minor file a separate return. However, filing a separate return is an option here. This could serve as a great financial lesson that introduces your child to filing taxes, setting up for refunds, and otherwise understanding how taxes work.
If you have any questions regarding filing taxes for a minor child, speaking with a tax professional is a wise move. It allows you to get explicit guidance relating to your unique situation, which is beneficial.
Filing Requirements May Vary
Additionally, it’s important to note that state filing requirements for minor children can vary. While they often align with the federal thresholds, there can be some variances that alter the picture. As a result, you’ll want to research the rules in your area. This will help to determine if your child has to file separately or if they can be on a parent’s return. When in doubt, speak with a tax professional operating in your state for additional guidance.
Does it surprise you to learn that minors still have to pay taxes? Do you think making minors pay taxes is a smart move or that they should be exempt? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Tamila McDonald is a U.S. Army veteran with 20 years of service, including five years as a military financial advisor. After retiring from the Army, she spent eight years as an AFCPE-certified personal financial advisor for wounded warriors and their families. Now she writes about personal finance and benefits programs for numerous financial websites.