Thursday, July 15, 2010


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Anonymous said...

Do I always have to file a tax return? What if my income is minimal?

The Accountant said...

I found the following informaiton on It seems to summarize the general rules pretty well. (Note: that these are the levels for 2009 and may change for 2010)

For 2009, you must file a tax return if you are younger than 65 and your income was at least:

-- $9,350 for single filers.
-- $12,000 for single heads of household with dependents.
-- $15,050 if you were widowed in 2007 or 2008 and have a dependent child.
-- $18,700 for married couples filing jointly.

If you’re 65 or older, the filing thresholds are higher:

-- $10,750 for single filers.
-- $13,400 for heads of household.
-- $16,150 if you were widowed in 2007 or 2008 and have a dependent child.
-- $19,800 for married couples filing jointly in which one spouse is 65 or older.
-- $20,900 for married couples filing jointly in which both spouses are 65 or older.

If you are married filing separately, you must file a tax return if your income is $3,650 or more, regardless of your age.

Dependent children who worked for wages or tips or who collected income from investments in 2009 must file a tax return if:

-- their earned income from a job was at least $5,700.
-- their investment income topped $950 (however, parents of children whose sole income was from investments can elect to report the child’s “kiddie tax” liability on their own return).

If a dependent child has both earned and unearned income, he or she must file a tax return if the combined income is $950 or their earned income (up to $5,400) plus $300, whichever is higher.

If you’re self-employed, regardless of whether you’re operating a sideline business or a full-time enterprise, you must file a tax return if your net self-employment income is $400 or more. It’s also a chance to collect the Making Work Pay Credit if you did not reduce your tax withholding throughout the year.

jenni brown said...

We paid for our child to go on a Mission trip. Would the airfare count as a charitable deduction?

The Accountant said...

Great question Jenni. The answer is yes.

According to Publication 526, your travel (i.e. airfare) is deductible as a charitable expense. Though there are some conditions.

1. The organization that your kids donated their time to must be a qualified charitable organization.

This can be:
- Religious
- Charitable
- Scientific
- Literary
- or the prevention or cruelty to children or animals.

I'm assuming that the organization they served fits into one of these categories.
The organization that your child donated their services to must be a domestic organization to deduction expenses from your domestic income.

2. The airfare must have been for the sole purpose of donating your child's services to the charitable organization. This means no vacation like activities or freetime. (Publication 526 indicates that each day must be spent donating services to the charitable organization. The specifics of this are a little cloudy, but the Publication might give you some more insight.

Let me know if you want some specifics.

Publication 526