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Frequently Questions and Answers

Giving you some answers

Q: When is a taxpayer required to file a tax return?

Generally, anyone earning income should consider filing a return. However, filing requirements depend on a combination of circumstances, including filing status, income and age. For those just starting out, one of the biggest determining factors will be whether they are claimed as a dependent by their parents. This means taxpayers with nearly identical circumstances might have different requirements.

For example, a single 18-year-old who is claimed as a dependent and earned $9,000 in wages and tips from part-time jobs must file a tax return

because this worker’s earned income is more than the standard deduction, which is $5,800 for a single filer in 2011.

Yet, if this person was not claimed as a dependent, filing would not be required because gross income did not exceed $9,500, which is the 2011 filing threshold for someone who files a return as a single individual. The filing threshold is determined by adding the personal exemption and the standard deduction for the applicable filing status.

Q. What do I do if I forgot to claim a tax benefit or omitted income?

An amended tax return can be filed any time of year to claim overlooked credits and deductions, include omitted income, and correct the number of dependents claimed. To claim a refund,

the original or amended return must generally be filed three years from the original due date of the return. For example, an amended return for tax year 2008 must be filed by April 17, 2012.

Q. When are federal tax returns due?

The deadline for filing federal individual tax returns is typically April 15. This year, the April filing due date is the 17th instead of the 15th due to the observance of Emancipation Day (April 15) in the District of Columbia on Monday, April 16. This is also the deadline to request an automatic

six-month extension to file, generally allowing taxpayers until October 15 to submit a return without a late-filing penalty. To avoid late payment penalties and interest, any taxes owed must be paid by the April deadline.