I'm in my first year of college. Last year before I started college I worked and made about $4,500 at a job. Knowing this, do I need to file my own taxes if my dad is claiming me as a dependent for last year?
Looks like the only reason you would file a return, would be to get any withheld taxes refunded to you. The below information should help you understand.
Understand that figuring out who claims the student as a dependent, and determining who claims the education expenses & credits, is two different determinations. It depends on the specific situation as outlined below.
Here’s the general rules gisted from IRS Publication 970 at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p970.pdf
If the student:
Is under the age of 24 on Dec 31 of the tax year and:
Is enrolled in an undergraduate program at an accredited institution and:
Is enrolled as at least a half time student for one academic semester that begins during the tax year, (each institution has their own definition of a half time student) and:
the student did not provide more that 50% of the student's own support (schollarships/grants received by the student do not count as the student providing their own support)
The parents will claim the student as a dependent on the parent's tax return and:
The parents will claim all schollarships, grants, tuition payments, and the student's 1098-T on the parent's tax return and:
The parents will claim all educational tax credits that qualify.
If the student will be filing a tax return and:
The parents qualify to claim the student as a dependent, then:
The student must select the option for "I can be claimed on someone else's return", on the student's tax return. The student must select this option ieven f the parent's qualify to claim the student as a dependent, and the parents do not claim them.
Now here’s some additional information that may or may not affect who files the 1098-T. If the amount of scholarships/grants exceeds the amount of qualified education expenses, the parent will know this when reporting the education on their tax return, because the parent will not qualify for any of the tax credits. (They only qualify for tax credits based on out-of-pocket qualified expenses not covered by scholarships/grants.) Also, the parent’s will not qualify for the credits depending on their MAGI which is different for each credit, and depends on the marital status of the parent or parents.
In the case where scholarships/grants covers “all” qualified education expenses, the parent’s don’t need to report educational information on their dependent student at all – but they still claim the student as a dependent if they “qualify” to claim the student.
If the scholarships/grants exceed the qualified education expenses, then the student will report the 1098-T and all other educational expenses and scholarships/grants on the student’s tax return. The student will pay taxes on the amount of scholarships/grants that are not used for qualified education expenses.However, if the student’s earned income, when added to the excess scholarships/grants does NOT exceed $6100, then the student doesn’t even need to file a tax return, and nothing has to be reported.