Teens & Taxes: What Tax Form Should My Teenager File?

Young girl seller in uniform working in supermarket at her first job, checking organic eggplants.
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If your teen had income in 2021, you might be preparing to help them file taxes in April. Whether you opt to do it yourself, use tax filing software, or hire a tax preparation firm, it helps to know what forms your teen will have to file.

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Just as with adults, the tax form your teen needs to file depends on the type of income they received in 2021.

Teens Who Worked W-2 Jobs

If your teen was an employee, which means they filled out a W-4 form for their employer when they started their job and had withholding taxes taken from their paycheck, they may need to file a Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. In 2018, the Internal Revenue Service did away with the 1040-EZ form, which simplified tax filings for individuals who don’t itemize deductions.

It’s important to remember that your teen only needs to file Form 1040 if their income exceeded the standard deduction of $12,550 for 2021 or if they expect they are getting a tax refund because they overpaid their withholding taxes last year. They will need a copy of their W-2 form sent by their employer to file accurately.

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Teens Who Worked Gig Jobs

The question of which tax forms to file might be a little more confusing for teens who earned 1099 income and received a 1099-NEC (non-employee compensation) form. If your teen received a 1099-NEC, they need to report that income on Form 1040, Schedule C. If their net earnings from self-employment total $400+, they will also need to pay self-employment tax and file Form 1040 Schedule SE, according to the IRS website.

Teens and Children with Investment Income

If your teen or child under 18 has investment income, dividends or other unearned income totaling $2,200 or more, they may have to file IRS Form 8615. However, if your child or teen’s only income came from interest and dividends and is less than $11,000, you may be able to file that income on your tax return instead.

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You may want to speak with a tax advisor or IRS enrolled agent to determine which forms you need to file for children with investments. If you have any questions regarding which forms your teen needs to file based on the type of income they received, it’s smart to speak with a tax preparer in advance of Tax Day, April 18, 2022.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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