Q: My college-aged kid just filed a federal return to get a $100 refund. But there is no state refund or tax due. Should he file a state tax return anyway?
A: Hello, Sue. Thank you for your question.
For tax year 2012, single individuals do not have a filing requirement if their gross income is $15,440 or less. If your son's gross income is above this amount, he would need to file a California tax return.
Based on the information you provided, it doesn't appear you are claiming your child as a dependent on your tax return. However, if you were to claim him as a dependent, his filing threshold would not be $15,440 or less, rather it would be the amount for the standard deduction (which is $3,841 this year for single individuals). Therefore, if you are claiming him as a dependent, he would need to file a tax return if his gross income was $3,841 or more.
You mention there is no tax due or refund in your son's case. But it's important to note that a tax return would need to be filed if he were due a refund, even if his gross income was below the $15,440 or $3,841 threshold.
For more information on filing requirements, please visit www.ftb.ca.gov and search for "2012 California Tax Table." You'll also find information on the FTB's two free e-filing programs: ReadyReturn and CalFile.
With ReadyReturn, your return is already completed, based on your previous year's return and wages/income reported to the FTB. All you do is review the return and make any changes.
For more complex returns, CalFile is a step-by-step process that takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. Both options are fast, easy and, best of all, free.