Does Your Kid Have a Job? Why You May Want to File a Tax Return for Your Kid Even if It’s Not Required.

Kids and Money / Friday, April 5th, 2013

filing taxes for kids

Happy Friday!

We’ve got some fun things on the calendar for the weekend, like Mom’s Weekend at my daughter’s sorority and a birthday party for a family friend.

But I’ll also need to carve out a little time to take care of tax returns. For my kids.

It’s such an exciting day when your kid gets their first real job.

And then the new year rolls around, they get a W-2 in the mail, and you think

Shoot…do I have to file a tax return for my kid too?

Maybe not.

According to IRS Publication 929 (Tax Rules for Children and Dependents), whether or not your child has to file a return is based primarily on the dollar amount of his or her income (both earned from jobs, and unearned from things like interest and dividends). The required number is high enough, however, that many kids don’t have enough income to have to file.

But even if you’re not required to file a return for your child, you may want to.


If your child had state or federal income taxes withheld from his or her paychecks, they’re probably entitled to get that money back in a refund.

My daughter falls into that category, so I’ll definitely be helping her file a return so she can get the refund.

My son, on the other hand, didn’t have state or federal income taxes withheld from his lifeguarding paychecks (only Social Security and Medicare) so we won’t need to file a return for him.

W-2s and tax returns are great teaching tools to use with your kids, although I find myself having to re-educate myself each year first.

Will you be filing tax returns for your kids this year?

Note: I am not a CPA or tax professional and this post shouldn’t be construed as financial advice. If you have questions about your own situation, consult the IRS publication linked to above or consult your own tax professional.


4 Replies to “Does Your Kid Have a Job? Why You May Want to File a Tax Return for Your Kid Even if It’s Not Required.”

  1. I started working summers when I was 14. Those first 2 years, only Social Security was withheld. But when I turned 16 I had state and fed taxes withheld and then every year I filed (yeah, me, I don’t ever remember my parents doing it for me!) and until I was 20 something I got all my taxes refunded. One year it was even more than I paid in because of renter’s credit or something crazy. So kids, take advantage of it while you can. There will be plenty more years to pay your dues!

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