Do I need to file? – Filing Requirements

2017 Filing Requirements Chart for Most Taxpayers

Who Must File US Tax Returns?

U.S. citizens and U.S. residents are taxed on their worldwide income. This applies whether a person lives inside or outside the United States. Foreign income  must be reported on a  U.S. tax return whether or not the person receives a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, a Form 1099 (information return) or the foreign equivalent of those forms.  Foreign source income includes but is not limited to earned and unearned income, such as wages and tips, interest, dividends, capital gains, pensions, rents, and royalties.

Nonresident aliens are generally subject to U.S. income tax only on their U.S. source income.   They are subject to two different tax rates, one for effectively connected income, and one for fixed or determinable, annual, or periodic (FDAP) income.  Effectively connected income (ECI) is earned in the U.S. from the operation of a business in the U.S. or is personal service income earned in the U.S.  (such as wages or self-employment income).  It is taxed for a nonresident at the same graduated rates as for a U.S. person.  FDAP income is passive income such as interest, dividends, rents or royalties.  This type of income is taxed at a flat 30% rate, unless a tax treaty specifies a lower rate.

Generally, a foreign corporation must file a U.S. tax return if it is engaged in a trade or business in the United States, whether or not it had income from that trade or business. It must also file if it had income, gains, or losses treated as if they were effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business, and if it had income from any U.S. source (even if its income is tax exempt under an income tax treaty or code section).

2017 Filing Requirements

If your 2017 filing status is And at the end of 2017 you were Then file a return if your gross income was at least…
Single under 65 $10,400
65 or older $11,950
Head of household under 65 $13,400
65 or older $14,950
Married, filing separate any age $4050
Married filing jointly under 65 (both spouses) $20,800
65 or older (one spouse) $22,050
65 or older (both spouses) $23,300
Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child under 65

65 or older



Individual Filing Requirements

If your gross income or adjusted gross income is more than the amount shown in the chart below for your filing status, age, and number of dependents, then you have a filing requirement.

Filing Status Age as of December 31, 2016* California Gross Income California Adjusted Gross Income
Dependents Dependents
0 1 2 or more 0 1 2 or more
Single or head of household Under 65 $17,029 $28,796 $37,621 $13,623 $25,390 $34,215
65 or older $22,729 $31,554 $38,614 $19,323 $28,148 $35,208
Married/RDP filing jointly or separately Under 65 (both spouses/RDPs) $34,060 $45,827 $54,652 $27,249 $39,016 $47,841
65 or older (one spouse) $39,760 $48,585 $55,645 $32,949 $41,774 $48,834
65 or older 
(both spouses/RDPs)
$45,460 $54,285 $61,345 $38,649 $47,474 $54,534
Qualifying widow(er) Under 65 N/A $28,796 $37,621 N/A $25,390 $34,215
65 or older N/A $31,554 $38,614 N/A $28,148 $35,208
Dependent of another person (Any filing status) Under 65 More than your standard deduction
65 or older More than your standard deduction

* If you turn 65 on January 1, 2017, you are considered to be age 65 at the end of 2016.