11 Reasons to File a Tax Return Even If You Don't Have To

Although you might not be required to file a tax return, it might be wise to file one anyway. Here are a few reasons why.

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Filling out tax forms is a pain in the you-know-what. So why on earth would anyone file a tax return if they don't have to? Well, actually, there's one very important reason why – you might get a big, fat tax refund check in the mail.

People with income under a certain amount (see table below) aren't required to file a tax return because they won't owe any tax. But if you qualify for certain tax credits or already paid some federal income tax, Uncle Sam might owe you a refund that you can only get by filing a return. Think about that for a minute!

If you want to know more, here are 11 reasons why you might want to file a tax return even if you don't have to. Although dealing with taxes can be a real drag, it's probably worth it if you wind up with a much fatter wallet in the end. (Note that the IRS won't penalize you for filing a late return if you're getting a refund.)

Who Has to File a Tax Return?

Here are the federal tax return filing requirements for the 2021 tax year:

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Filing Status and Age at End of 2021 Filing Required If Income is At Least
Single; Under 65$12,550
Single; 65 or Older$14,250
Married Filing Jointly; Both Spouses Under 65$25,100
Married Filing Jointly; One Spouse 65 or Older$26,450
Married Filing Jointly; Both Spouses 65 or Older$27,800
Married Filing Separately; Any Age$5
Head of Household; Under 65$18,800
Head of Household; 65 or Older$20,500
Qualifying Widow(er); Under 65$25,100
Qualifying Widow(er); 65 or Older$26,450
Rocky Mengle

Rocky Mengle was a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger from October 2018 to January 2023 with more than 20 years of experience covering federal and state tax developments. Before coming to Kiplinger, Rocky worked for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting, and Kleinrock Publishing, where he provided breaking news and guidance for CPAs, tax attorneys, and other tax professionals. He has also been quoted as an expert by USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Accounting Today, and other media outlets. Rocky holds a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.