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Determining Whether You Need to File a Tax Return in 2023


As a professional copywriter, I understand the importance of finding fulfillment in your career. It seems that you have recently experienced a similar journey. After saving a substantial amount of money, you made the brave decision to leave your job in late 2022. However, now you’re wondering about the tax implications of your income in 2023 and whether you need to file a return. Let’s dive deeper into this matter.

Evaluating Income and Filing Requirements

While it’s generally true that no filing is required if your income is less than the standard deduction for the tax year, navigating the complexities of taxes can be more intricate than that. In your case, it is likely that you may still need to file a return.

Considering Additional Income Sources

When assessing your income, it’s crucial to look beyond just your earnings from employment. You mentioned that you have accumulated significant savings, which suggests the presence of taxable assets. Did you receive interest or dividends from these assets?

Exploring Potential Expenses

Furthermore, it seems unlikely that your expenses for the year were solely $13,000. Did you tap into a retirement plan or IRA account? Alternatively, did you sell holdings in a nonretirement account for a profit to cover your expenses? These additional income sources can contribute to your gross income surpassing the standard deduction threshold, necessitating the filing of a return.

Unique Tax Credit Considerations

While it may not directly apply to your situation, it’s worth noting that there are different tax credits available for lower-income households. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may qualify for these credits, which could require you to file a tax return. This particularly applies to households with multiple dependents.

Other Employment-Related Factors

Apart from non-wage income considerations, the two jobs you mentioned—your part-time work at the nursery and your freelance consulting—also play a role in determining whether you need to file a return.

Withheld Taxes and Potential Refunds

If any of your employers withheld taxes during your time at the nursery, it is essential to assess whether they withheld more than necessary. In the event of excess withholdings, filing a return becomes crucial in order to claim a refund for those overpaid taxes.


Dear Donny, as you can see, determining whether you need to file a tax return in 2023 involves various factors beyond your initial income evaluation. It is prudent to carefully assess all aspects of your financial situation, including additional income sources, expenses, and potential tax credits. If in doubt, consulting with a tax professional will provide you with the necessary guidance to ensure compliance with all filing requirements. Best of luck on your journey of career exploration and navigating the intricacies of taxes.


Self-Employment Income and Tax Filing

If you work as a freelancer or an independent contractor, rather than an employee, you will likely have self-employment income. It is important to note that if your self-employment income reaches at least $400, you will need to file a tax return.

When filing your taxes, you have the opportunity to reduce the taxable amount of your self-employment income by deducting legitimate expenses incurred for your consulting work. These expenses could include travel costs, office supplies, and more. Additionally, keep in mind that as someone with self-employment income, you are required to pay self-employment taxes even if your overall income is not sufficient to incur federal or state income taxes. The self-employment tax rate is approximately 15.3% of your net self-employment income.

To gain a better understanding of whether you need to file a tax return or not, I recommend using the IRS “interview” tool designed for this purpose. Handling self-employment income properly can be challenging, so it is advisable to discuss this matter with a qualified tax adviser. While filing taxes may seem like a hassle, it certainly beats the alternative of paying interest and penalties for failing to file.

Note: Dan Moisand is a financial planner at Moisand Fitzgerald Tamayo, providing nationwide service from their offices in Orlando, Melbourne, and Tampa, Florida. Please be aware that the information provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for personalized advice. It is always recommended to consult with your own adviser to determine the best course of action for your specific situation. Some reader questions have been edited for clarity and relevance.

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