Do I really need to file my taxes?July 25, 2012: 6:30 AM ET
I forgot to file my 2010 income tax return. I just found out when it came time to prepare my 2011 taxes. I didn't have enough income to owe anything, however. Should I file anyway? ― James H.
You're required to file only if you make more than $9,500 (if you file individually) or $19,000 (if you're married and you file jointly). If you earned less than those amounts in 2010, you haven't broken any laws and you won't face any penalties.
But you may want to file anyway, says Portland, Maine-based CPA Joseph Keaney, who notes that you might have a refund coming your way if taxes were withheld from your wages. Filing your taxes also earns you credit toward future Social Security benefits.
You may even qualify for credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Additional Child Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit. If you're eligible, these credits can reduce your tax liability below zero — meaning the government would owe you money. Depending on your income level and family status, you might be entitled to more than $1,000 in refunds a year.
— Marc Mewshaw
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