What is the minimum income needed to file taxes? Should I file as Single or Married Filing Jointly if my wife doesn't meet minimum? She has a 1098-T.

My wife and I always file jointly, but this year she only worked 8 months and made less than $9,000. Do we have to file her income (what is the minimum), and if we don't would I file as Single instead of Married? She is a college student and has a 1098-T. Would that make a difference in the filing status?
  • dependent child with income
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For 2012 (source:  IRS.gov)

Single 
  Under 65      $9,750
  65 or older   $11,200

Head of Household
  Under 65      $12,500
  65 or older   $13,950

Married Filing Jointly
  Under 65 (both spouses)    $19,500
  65 or older (one spouse)     $20,650
  65 or older (both spouses)  $21,800

Married Filing Separately
  Any age          $3,800
  Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Children  Under 65      $15,700
  65 or older     $16,850
  • Married Filing Jointly under 65 (both spouses) $19,500   My income is over $19,500 but Spouse's income is under $2,000, Do I have to claim her income on our joint return?
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Even though your wife only worked part time, you are most likely going to do better filing a joint tax return.  You cannot file as single because you are married.  If you file as married filing separately, both of you are required to file a tax return regardless of income limits, and your wife would not be eligible for education credits.

Also if you live in a community property state, special rules apply.  Typically the big one is you need to split your income in half and each of you reports half of your TOTAL income between the two of you anyway.
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SingleUnder 65$9,75065 or older$11,200Head of HouseholdUnder 65$12,50065 or older$13,950Married Filing JointlyUnder 65 (both spouses)$19,50065 or older (one spouse)$20,65065 or older (both spouses)$21,800Married Filing SeparatelyAny age$3,800Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent ChildrenUnder 65$15,70065 or older$16,850
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