Tax Returns for Non-Working Individuals: Your Definitive Guide.

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Tax returns are an important aspect of personal finance, and even if you do not work, you may still need to file a tax return. The purpose of this guide is to provide non-working individuals with a definitive overview of tax returns and what they might entail.

Tax Returns for Non-Working Individuals: Your Definitive Guide.Tax Returns for Non-Working Individuals: Your Definitive Guide.

What is a Tax Return?

A tax return is an official form that taxpayers must submit every year to report their income and calculate the taxes owed or refunds due. Even non-working individuals who have no income may be required to file taxes.

Why Do Non-Working Individuals Need to File Taxes?

Even if you don’t earn any income from traditional employment, there are still situations where you may need to file a tax return:

  • If you received unemployment benefits during the year
  • If you had any taxable interest or dividend income over $10
  • If your spouse earned enough money that requires him/her/them file
    Married filing separately.
  • If someone else can claim you as a dependent on their taxes
    (e.g., parents, guardians)

Filing taxes when it’s not strictly necessary for certain circumstances like these will allow non-working individuals the opportunity to receive refunds available under certain refundable credits as discussed below.

Which Forms Will You Need To File Your Taxes When You Are Not Working?

Non-working individuals often have specific forms required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) depending on different factors such as age or status. Here’s an overview of some common forms needed:

  1. Form 1040EZ: This form is for single or married people claiming no dependents who don’t own a home and whose annual taxable income was less than $100,000.

  2. Form 1040: People with at least one dependent child will usually need this form instead; it allows exemptions for each dependent child.

  3. Additional Forms: Depending upon specific circumstances, non-working individuals may need to file other forms such as Schedule A (for deductions) or Form 8880 (for retirement savings contributions).

Understanding Tax Credits and Deductions

Non-working individuals are likely to have fewer tax credits and deductibles compared to working individuals. However, claiming the available ones can make a significant tax difference for them. Here’s an overview of some of those:

Refundable Tax Credits

Refundable tax credits are those that provide refunds even if you do not owe any taxes.

  1. Earned Income Tax Credit: You may be eligible for this credit if you have a qualifying child or meet the income requirements ($15,270 maximum earned income).

  2. Additional Child Tax Credit: If your child is under the age of 17 at the end of the year and you cannot claim all of this credit based on what you owe in taxes, you may be able to receive some additional funds as well.

Other Credits

There are also “non-refundable” credits which only reduce your taxable wages & must used towards your liability before they give back any money.

  1. Education/Tuition Cost Credits: These credits offer up-to $2k annually per student after meeting certain eligibility criteria like full-time school attendance throughout qualifying terms.

  2. Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (Saver’s Credit): This refundable credit is especially beneficial when it comes giving away dollars from taxes paid on withdrawals taken during retirement years by people who contribute into specific types of accounts like Roth IRA’s etc


Deductibles lower one’s taxable income depending upon how much was spent on expenses that qualify.

1.Standard Deduction- The amount depends upon one’s filing status and age

2.Itemized deduction- Detailed record keeping helps determine if itemizing vs taking standard deduction works best for lowering taxable income

Note: Expenses should be greater than allowed minimums on Schedule A of Form 1040 which includes expenses such as charitable donations, mortgage interest paid or medical expenses depending upon income threshold for example.

How to File Taxes?

Non-working individuals can file taxes in multiple ways. The traditional way is to fill out paper forms and mail them to the IRS directly. However, with modern technology increasing its reach every year, E-filing has become more popular and accessible over time.

Traditional Filing:

The standard method several non-working taxpayers choose is by filling out their tax returns themselves using a computer program like TurboTax or visiting a local library or community center that offers free access to tax preparation software.

Online filing:

Online tax-preparation services supported through the “IRS Free File” program tailored for those whose income falls below $72k/year are available using an app like Credit Karma Tax; it’s worth noting here that they offer live technical support from certified public accountants (CPAs) throughout each step of preparation process.


Filing taxes may not be fun, but it’s something that everyone must do for individual benefits and proper financial management. Even if you are not working right now, filing your tax returns will benefit you in numerous ways including eligibility for some refundable credits and also saving money by claiming deductions appropriately suited towards your financial goals. Hopefully this definitive guide has been helpful in understanding what it entails when one files their own taxes- regardless whether they are employed full-time or have no work at all!


Do I need to file a tax return if I didn’t earn any income this year?
Answer: If you did not have any income from working or investments during the tax year, then you may not be required to file a federal tax return. However, there are some situations when it is beneficial to do so even if your earnings were zero. For example, filing a return could qualify you for certain tax credits (such as the Earned Income Tax Credit) that could provide you with a refund.

Can non-working individuals claim deductions on their taxes?
Answer: Yes, non-working individuals may still be eligible to claim certain deductions on their federal tax returns. For example, if they paid student loan interest or made charitable contributions during the year, they can potentially deduct those expenses on their taxes.

Is Social Security income taxable for non-working individuals?
Answer: It depends on your total income and filing status. Generally speaking, up to 85% of Social Security benefits received by an individual in a given year can be taxed at their applicable marginal rate if they meet certain criteria based on other sources of retirement income and overall earned/ unearned income levels.
It is recommended that such instances should also consults experienced professionals who is capable of reviewing all factors relevant to each person’s specific situation before making financial decisions or taking action based upon this information present online in blogs and articles which does not constitute personalized advice