You are required to file a federal income tax return if your income is above a certain level, which varies depending on your filing status, age and the type of income you receive. However, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers that some people should file even if they aren't required to because they may get a refund if they had taxes withheld or they may qualify for refundable credits.

To find out if you need to file, check the Individuals section of the IRS website at www.irs.gov or consult the instructions for Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ for specific details that may help you determine if you need to file a tax return with the IRS this year. You can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant available on the IRS website. The ITA tool is a tax law resource that takes you through a series of questions and provides you with responses to tax law questions.

Even if you don't have to file for 2011, here are six reasons why you may want to:

  1. Federal Income Tax Withheld You should file to get money back if your employer withheld federal income tax from your pay, you made estimated tax payments, or had a prior year overpayment applied to this year's tax.
  2. Earned Income Tax Credit You may qualify for EITC if you worked, but did not earn a lot of money. EITC is a refundable tax credit; which means you could qualify for a tax refund. To get the credit you must file a return and claim it.
  3. Additional Child Tax Credit This refundable credit may be available if you have at least one qualifying child and you did not get the full amount of the Child Tax Credit.
  4. American Opportunity Credit Students in their first four years of postsecondary education may qualify for as much as $2,500 through this credit. Forty percent of the credit is refundable so even those who owe no tax can get up to $1,000 of the credit as cash back for each eligible student.
  5. Adoption Credit You may be able to claim a refundable tax credit for qualified expenses you paid to adopt an eligible child.
  6. Health Coverage Tax Credit Certain individuals who are receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance, Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance, Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance or pension benefit payments from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, may be eligible for a 2011 Health Coverage Tax Credit.

Eligible individuals can claim a significant portion of their payments made for qualified health insurance premiums.

For more information about filing requirements and your eligibility to receive tax credits, visit www.irs.gov.

Your maximum federal refund is guaranteed! TaxACT Free Edition will guide you through hundreds of credits and deductions and check your return for potential errors. Whether you have simple or complex taxes, TaxACT Free Edition has you covered with all e-fileable forms and free tax and technical help by email. Prepare, print and e-file your federal tax return free now.

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Upcoming Tax Dates

March 1 — Farmers & fishermen
File your 2016 income tax return (Form 1040) and pay any tax due - Details

March 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during February, report them to your employer - Details

March 11 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the first 15 days of February.

March 14 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the last 13 days of February.

March 15 — S Corporations
File a 2016 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120S) and pay any tax due - Details

March 15 — S Corporation election
File Form 2553, Election by a Small Business Corporation, to elect to be treated as an S corporation beginning with calendar year 2017. If Form 2553 is filed late, S corporation treatment will begin with calendar year 2018.

March 15 — Partnerships
File a 2016 calendar year return (Form 1065) - Details

March 15 — Electing larger partnerships
Provide each partner with a copy of Schedule K1 (Form 1065B), Partner's Share of Income (Loss) From an Electing Large Partnership, or a substitute Schedule K1. This due date applies even if the partnership requests an extension of time to file the Form 1065B by filing Form 7004

March 15 — Partnerships
Electing large partnerships: File a 2016 calendar year return (Form 1065-B) - Details

March 15 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule Page 6 Publication 509 (2015) applies, deposit the tax for payments in February.

March 15 — Nonpayroll withholding
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in February.

March 25 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 14 days of February.

March 29 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the first 15 days of March.

March 31 — Electronic filing of Forms W2
File copies of all the Forms W2 you issued for 2016. This due date applies only if you electronically file.

March 31 — Electronic filing of Forms W2G
File copies of all the Forms W2G you issued for 2016. This due date applies only if you electronically file.

March 31 — Electronic filing of Forms 8027
File Forms 8027 for 2016. This due date applies only if you electronically file.

March 31 — Wagering tax
File Form 730 and pay the tax on wagers accepted during February.

View More Tax Dates