How to File Taxes With No Income

Posted by in Taxes | Updated on November 15, 2022
At a Glance: Even if a person has earned no income in a given year, they may still file a tax return and claim tax credits either by mail or online. Depending on the previous year’s tax payments, a zero-income tax return may still result in a refund.

If you haven’t earned any income in the last year, you may be wondering how you can file your taxes. We all know that filing taxes is something you cannot avoid, so you have to make sure you always do it on time.

So, instead of skipping the return just because you didn’t have any income, you must be aware of how to file taxes with no income. This article will teach you what to do in this situation.

Can I File an Income Tax Return If I Don’t Have Any Income?

Filing a tax return is always important, so you have to make sure you do it before the deadline. But what is the procedure when you didn’t have any income last year?

The good news is that you are not forced to file a return if you didn’t get have any income in the last tax year. Every single year, there are some minimum income requirements imposed by the IRS – they change annually depending on your tax status or inflation.

So, your requirements can change based on whether you file jointly, you’re married but filing separately, you’re single, and so on. So, a tax return is not mandatory if you have no income. Still, you may want to do it regardless, because there are some huge reasons for this.

Filing despite getting no income the last tax year will allow you to claim some refundable tax credits, which can then offer you some tax refund. This applies even if you don’t have a job. Therefore, it is possible for you to qualify for the Additional Child Tax Credit or the Earned Income Tax Credit. They are both refundable tax credits.

Besides, you can also file if you earned very little income last year. This makes it possible for you to recover taxes that were withheld from the last time you paid. It is a scenario that occurs when you had a job, but only for a small part of the last year.

However, it is also possible in cases when a person goes to college and has very little income. Thus, filing a return will give the individual the opportunity to use the American Opportunity credit.

Meanwhile, things are different for people who are self-employed or have a small business. Basically, if you earned over $400 from this, you have to file a tax return. Some confusion is generated by this type of situation a few times when the income level of the contractor is over $400 but less than the threshold that the W2 employees should file at.

You will also have to file your taxes if you got any health care tax credits or subsidies for the last year. This allows you to receive them from now on too.


Requirements for Filing Income Taxes?

When it comes to who has to file taxes and who doesn’t, the good thing about it is that there are individuals who don’t have to do it.

If you earned income the previous tax year but it was less than the IRS minimum, filing a tax return is not necessary. Whether you are the head of the household, single, claimed as a dependent on another person’s taxes, or filing jointly with your spouse, the minimum varies based on your filing status and age.

Every year, the minimum earned income also gets adjusted by the IRS for inflation. So, people who are under the minimum will still be required to file tax returns if the new circumstances ask for it.

Filing and paying a self-employment tax will be required if you got $400 in earnings from self-employment, for instance.

Meanwhile, if no income was earned, filing taxes is not mandatory.

Getting a Refund with Tax Credits

It is possible to obtain a refund with a tax credit. There are several tax credits offered by the IRS, which can be taken off your taxes and not your income. If the credit you get is higher than the amount you have to pay in taxes, you can sometimes claim this extra credit as a refund.

Also, even if your tax is $0, you have the chance to qualify for different tax credits, like the Additional Child Tax Credit or the Earned Income Tax Credit, which will then allow you to get a refund. Just bear in mind that filing the 1040 and other tax forms is necessary if you want to be able to claim the credits.

Furthermore, depending on the age of your child, the American Rescue Plan will boost the per-child credit to $3,000 or $3,600, and this also expands the Child Tax Credit.

As such, you have to consider this for the 2021 tax return that you will have to prepare the next year. You can get a refund of the credit for 2021, and the IRS can send out advance payments for this starting with July, ensuring that people can get their money pretty fast.

File Now so You Can Deduct Later

You cannot claim as much as you want to. It all depends on the IRS. This is because the IRS is the one putting a limit on how much you can claim with certain credits and deductions.

For instance, if a home office deduction would send your business into debt, you will be unable to claim the home office deduction since it’s too large. You will be able to claim zero business income for that year instead, which will then allow you to move into the next year carrying the leftover deduction.

Also, you are unable to claim your credits or deduction that carry over if you have no income. However, you will have to file your taxes to be able to claim them in the following year when you are getting an income.

Protect Against Future Audits

The last thing you want to happen to you is an audit.

In terms of auditing old tax returns, the IRS operates under a statute of limitations. When you make sure that you accurately report your information, they can only go back three years in general. But for the current year, it all starts only when you file the tax return.

Not filing the tax return puts you at risk of having an audit performed by the IRS. So, the IRS says that in situations when you don’t want to file, it’s essential to maintain all important financial records.

Otherwise, you risk dealing with serious problems, and they can get unpleasant instantly.

Filing Taxes With No Income FAQs

Do you have to file taxes if you have no income?
You only have to file taxes if you make above the IRS-imposed income thresholds which vary based on your filing status (single, married, etc.). You can still file your taxes even if you have no income if you choose.

Can you file taxes with no income but have a child or dependent?
If you have no income but have a child/dependent, you can still file your taxes. This may allow you to get a refund if the tax credits you’re eligible for are more than your income.

Do you have to pay taxes if you don’t have a job?
If you don’t have a job, you will have to file taxes if you meet the IRS’ minimum income thresholds. If you have no income, you are not required to file your taxes but there may be benefits to doing so.

How can I file a zero-income tax return?
You can file your zero-income tax return just like any other tax return—through the mail or online.

How can I file a zero-income tax return online?
You can file your zero-income tax return online using the IRS’ Free File system or an online tool such as TurboTax.

What is the benefit of filing a tax return even if you don’t have enough money?
Even if you have no or low income, filing your taxes can lead to you receiving a refund if your tax credits are more than your income.

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Having no income makes things very confusing for individuals who filed taxes in the past, and if you are in this situation, you may be unaware of how to file your taxes right now.

While filing taxes when you have no income is not mandatory, there are some benefits in doing it, like getting the chance to claim refundable tax credits.

So, if you’re in this situation, you might want to find out how to file taxes with no income.

Make sure to follow the information in this article and you should be successful when starting the filing process.

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