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Do You Really Have to File a Tax Return?

Millions of taxpayers have to file a tax return by mid-April to avoid big penalties. But some lucky taxpayers don't have to file a tax return at all. How do you know if you're eligible for this lucky break -- and whether you should file even if you do qualify?

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, looks at the filing requirements for income tax returns. Dan notes that below certain income limits -- $10,000 for single filers, $20,000 for joint filers, $12,850 for heads of household, and $16,100 for qualifying widow and widowers, you're not required to file a return. But Dan also points out that sometimes, you should file a return anyway even if you're not required to. For instance, if you're due money back from prior payroll tax withholding or from a refundable credit like the earned income credit, adoption credit, American Opportunity Credit, and other eligible provisions, then it makes sense to file to get a refund even if you technically don't have to. For most taxpayers, though, filing will still be part of annual life.

Is Uncle Sam about to claim 40% of your hard-earned assets?
Thanks to a 2013 law called the American Taxpayer Relief Act, or ATRA, he can, and will, if you aren't properly prepared.

Fortunately, The Motley Fool recently uncovered an arsenal of little-known loopholes to protect yourself from ATRA and help keep the taxman at bay when he inevitably comes calling. We reveal them all in a brand-new special report. Simply click the following link for instant, 100% free access.

Protect my hard-earned wealth from Uncle Sam


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Dan Caplinger
TMFGalagan

Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on Fool.com. With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

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