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Strange as it may seem, the IRS doesn’t want everybody to file
an income tax return. The reason is simple: Processing tax returns
costs time and money. The IRS doesn’t want to use its resources
handling returns that weren’t necessary in the first place.
Strange as it may seem, the IRS doesn’t want everybody to file an income tax return. The reason is simple: Processing tax returns costs time and money. The IRS doesn’t want to use its resources handling returns that weren’t necessary in the first place.

Who should file a return? The rules for filing 2003 tax returns are straightforward for most people.

Single taxpayers (including those who are divorced or legally separated): If you’re under 65 and had gross income of at least $7,800 in 2003, you must file. If you’re 65 or older, the cutoff is $8,950.

“Head of household” taxpayers (generally, unmarried people who provide a home to a child or other dependent): If you’re under 65 and had income of at least $10,050, you’ll need to file. If you’re 65 or older, the cutoff is $11,200.

Married taxpayers filing jointly: Filing is required if both spouses are under 65 and income is at least $15,600.

If one spouse is 65 or older, the cutoff is $16,550. If both spouses are 65 or older, gross income must be at least $17,500 to require filing. If you were married but not living with your spouse at the end of 2003, filing is required if you have income of $3,050 or more, regardless of your age.

Married taxpayers filing separately: If you made at least $3,050, you must file, regardless of your age.

Different IRS rules govern filing for certain widows and widowers, dependents, those who owe special taxes (e.g., self-employment tax), children under age 14 and aliens.

It’s worth looking into your filing requirements. This year you may not have to file at all. If you have a refund coming, you will want to file regardless of your income level.

Bob Bianchi is a CPA and a partner with the accounting and business consulting firm of Bianchi, Lorincz & Company is downtown Hollister.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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