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  • Melanie Mackenzie

Do I need to file a tax return? … and the Married Filing Separately shock!

Updated: Sep 1

One of the questions we often receive from customers is whether they actually need to file a tax return....


Whether you reside overseas or back home, the IRS filing requirements to determine whether you need to file a tax return are the same.


Your income, filing status, and age generally determine whether you need to file an income tax return.


So some aren’t required to file a tax return if they are under the thresholds detailed below, .......but most choosing to file under the status of Married Filing Separately will have to file a tax return regardless of their age.


This is because under the Tax Cut & Jobs Act, which impacts tax return filings from 2018, the Married Filing Separately income threshold changed.


Generally, you must file a tax return for 2019 if your gross income from worldwide sources is at least the amount shown for your filing status in the following table, and yes, you read that right! The threshold to file a tax return for folks filing Married Filing Separately is $5 of gross income.

For example Sarah and Jeff, a married couple who are both younger than 65, have gross income respectively $18,000 and $6 - from employment and bank interest - if they chose the Married Filing Jointly status, they wouldn’t have to file a tax return as their gross income is less than $24,400....however if Sarah and Jeff decide to use the Married Filing Separately status, they would each be required to file a tax return.


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2019 Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad


Filing Status Amount

Single ....................................................... $12,200

65 or older .................................................$13,850

Head of household ....................................$18,350

65 or older .................................................$20,000

Qualifying widow(er) ................. ................$24,400

65 or older .................................................$25,700

Married filing jointly ....................................$24,400

Not living with spouse at end of year ..................$5

One spouse 65 or older ..............................$25,700

Both spouses 65 or older ............................$27,000

Married filing separately ..................................... $5


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