Publication 501 - Introductory Material


What's New

Who must file.  In some cases, the amount of income you can receive before you must file a tax return has increased. Table 1 shows the filing requirements for most taxpayers.

Exemption amount. The amount you can deduct for each exemption has increased. It was $3,800 for 2012. It is $3,900 for 2013.

Exemption phaseout. You lose at least part of the benefit of your exemptions if your adjusted gross income is above a certain amount. For 2013, the phaseout begins at $150,000 for married individuals filing separate returns; $250,000 for single individuals; $275,000 for heads of household; and $300,000 for married individuals filing joint returns or qualifying widow(er)s. See Phaseout of Exemptions , later.

Standard deduction increased.  The standard deduction for some taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions on Schedule A of Form 1040 is higher for 2013 than it was for 2012. The amount depends on your filing status. You can use the 2013 Standard Deduction Tables near the end of this publication to figure your standard deduction.

Same-sex marriages. . If you have a same-sex spouse whom you legally married in a state (or foreign country) that recognizes same-sex marriage, you and your spouse generally must use the married filing jointly or married filing separately filing status on your 2013 return, even if you and your spouse now live in a state (or foreign country) that does not recognize same-sex marriage. See Same-sex marriage under Marital Status, later.If you meet certain requirements, you may be able to file amended returns to change your filing status for some earlier years. For details on filing amended returns, see Joint Return After Separate Returns .

Reminders

Future developments. Information about any future developments affecting Publication 501 (such as legislation enacted after we release it) will be posted at www.irs.gov/pub501.

Taxpayer identification number for aliens.  If you are a nonresident or resident alien and you do not have and are not eligible to get a social security number (SSN), you must apply for an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). Your spouse also may need an ITIN if he or she does not have and is not eligible to get an SSN. See Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Also, see Social Security Numbers for Dependents , later.

Photographs of missing children.  The Internal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.

Introduction

This publication discusses some tax rules that affect every person who may have to file a federal income tax return. It answers some basic questions: who must file; who should file; what filing status to use; how many exemptions to claim; and the amount of the standard deduction.

Who Must File explains who must file an income tax return. If you have little or no gross income, reading this section will help you decide if you have to file a return.

Who Should File helps you decide if you should file a return, even if you are not required to do so.

Filing Status helps you determine which filing status to use. Filing status is important in determining whether you must file a return and whether you may claim certain deductions and credits. It also helps determine your standard deduction and tax rate.

Exemptions, which reduce your taxable income, are discussed in Exemptions .

Exemptions for Dependents explains the difference between a qualifying child and a qualifying relative. Other topics include the social security number requirement for dependents, the rules for multiple support agreements, and the rules for divorced or separated parents.

Phaseout of Exemptions explains how to determine whether you must reduce the dollar amount of exemptions you claim and, if so, the amount of the reduction.

Standard Deduction gives the rules and dollar amounts for the standard deduction — a benefit for taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions. This section also discusses the standard deduction for taxpayers who are blind or age 65 or older, as well as special rules that limit the standard deduction available to dependents. In addition, this section helps you decide whether you would be better off taking the standard deduction or itemizing your deductions.

How To Get Tax Help explains how to get tax help from the IRS.

This publication is for U.S. citizens and resident aliens only. If you are a resident alien for the entire year, you must follow the same tax rules that apply to U.S. citizens. The rules to determine if you are a resident or nonresident alien are discussed in chapter 1 of Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.

Nonresident aliens.    If you were a nonresident alien at any time during the year, the rules and tax forms that apply to you may be different from those that apply to U.S. citizens. See Publication 519.

Comments and suggestions.    We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.

  You can write to us at the following address:

Internal Revenue Service 
Tax Forms and Publications Division 
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526 
Washington, DC 20224

  We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.

  You can send your comments from www.irs.gov/formspubs. Click on “More Information” and then on “Comment on Tax Forms and Publications.

  Although we cannot respond individually to each comment received, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.

Ordering forms and publications.    Visit www.irs.gov/formspubs to download forms and publications, call 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676), or write to the address below and receive a response within 10 days after your request is received.

Internal Revenue Service 
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway 
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613

Tax questions.    If you have a tax question, check the information available on IRS.gov or call 1-800-829-1040. We cannot answer tax questions sent to either of the above addresses.

Useful Items - You may want to see:

Publication

  • 559 Survivors, Executors, and Administrators

  • 929 Tax Rules for Children and Dependents

Form (and Instructions)

  • 1040X Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

  • 2848 Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative

  • 8332 Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent

  • 8814 Parents' Election To Report Child's Interest and Dividends


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