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College student with phone walking on top of a large 1040 form with drop pins
Money; Shutterstock

Taxes may be an inescapable bane of being a working adult. But teens and college students shouldn’t ignore their W-2 forms, either. While a full-time high school or college student who earns money via a part-time or summer job might not need to file a tax return, spending a few minutes filling out the forms can mean significant financial benefits.

When are teens or college students required to file taxes?

A person who has an income of less than $12,400 — the standard deduction for 2020 — doesn’t usually have to file a federal tax return.

The exception is for those who qualify for the so-called kiddie tax — a rule that requires some taxes on investments owned by individuals under 19.

“Once you have at least $1,100 in investment income, you must file, and after $2,200, you start having to pay taxes at your parents’ tax rate,” says Yves-Marc Courtines, a financial planner in Manhattan Beach, Calif.