• Do I have to pay income taxes?

    Date: 08.31.07 | by Judge Tom.

    Given the size of your paycheck, you may think that as a teenager you don′t have to worry about filing taxes. “How could I owe income tax on the peanuts I earn?” Well, neither the federal or state governments feel this way. If you earn any amount of money throughout the year, you may have to pay a tax to either the state or federal government, or both.

    State income tax laws differ, so you′ll have to check the rules where you live. Some states have no income tax. The federal tax laws apply to everyone who earns an income. If you earn $6,100 during the year (January through December), you′re required to file with the federal government′s Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Most teens working part-time don′t earn this much.

    You may, however, want to file an income tax return in order to claim a refund of any amounts withheld from your check by your employer. While you work, your employer may withhold part of your paycheck. This adds up over the course of the year. When you do your taxes, you′ll either owe the government or receive a refund. If you overpaid (too much withholding), you′ll get the difference back. If you underpaid, you′ll owe the difference, which is due by April 15 of each year.

    Photo by Paul Keleher

    State and federal tax forms come with instructions, but talk with your parents before you try to fill out the forms. Tax laws are complicated, and it′s easy to make a mistake. If you have to file, you′ll probably use the “EZ” form (unless you′re married or your income was over the stated amount on the form). As you continue to work and your income increases, you may want to consult with a tax service or accountant for assistance.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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