Individual Income Filing Requirements

Do I need to file a North Carolina Individual Income Tax Return?

  • The minimum gross income filing requirements under North Carolina law are different from the filing requirements under the Intenral Revenue Code because North Carolina law does not allow the same standard deduction amount as the Internal Revenue Code nor does it provide for a personal exemption for the individual, the individual's spouse, the individual's children, or any other qualifying dependents.
  • North Carolina Residents: If you were a resident of North Carolina during tax year 2017, you must file a North Carolina individual income tax return if your gross income for 2017 exceeds the amount shown in the Filing Requirements Chart for your filing status.  You were a resident of North Carolina if you were domiciled in this State at any time during 2017 or if you resided in this State during 2017 for other than a temporary or transitory purpose.  In the absence of convincing proof to the contrary, an individual who is present within North Carolina for more than 183 days during the taxable year is presumed to be a resident, but the absence of an individual from the State for more than 183 days raises no presumption that the individual is not a resident.
  • A resident who moves from the State during 2017 is considered a resident of North Carolina until the individual has both established a definite domicile elsewhere and abandoned any domicile in North Carolina.  A taxpayer may have several places of abode in a year, but at no time can an individual have more than one domicile.  A mere intent or desire to make a change in domicile is not enough; voluntary and positive action must be taken.

I'm a part-year resident. Do I have to file?

  • You received income while a resident of North Carolina or you received income while a nonresident that was (1) attributable to the ownership of any interest in real or tangible personal property in North Carolina or (2) derived from a business, trade, profession, or occupation carried on in North Carolina, or (3) derived from gambling activities in North Carolina and whose total gross income for the taxable year exceeds the amount shown in the Filing Requirements for Tax Year 2017 Chart for the individual's filing status.

I'm a nonresident. Do I have to file?

  • If you are a nonresident, you must file if:
    • You received income for the taxable year from North Carolina sources that was (1) attributable to the ownership of any interest in real or tangible personal property in North Carolina or (2) derived from a business, trade, profession, or occupation carried on in North Carolina, or (3) derived from gambling activities in North Carolina and whose total gross income from all sources both inside and outside of North Carolina for the taxable year exceeds the amount shown in the Filing Requirements for Tax Year 2017 Chart for the individual's filing status.

I had North Carolina income tax withheld, but my income is less than what is shown in the Filing Requirements Chart. Do I have to file?

  • If you had North Carolina income tax withheld during the year but your income is below the amount required for filing shown in the Filing Requirement Chart, you must still file a return to receive a refund of the tax withheld.

I wasn't required to file a federal income tax return; do I still have to file a North Carolina return?

  • If an individual was not required to file a federal income tax return but had total gross income inside and outside North Carolina that exceeds the amount shown in the Filing Requirements for Tax Year 2017 Chart for the individual's filing status, a federal return must be completed and attached to the North Carolina return to show how the federal adjusted gross income and deductions were determined.

I'm married. Do I have to file a joint return with my spouse?

  • You and your spouse must file a joint return if:
    • You filed a joint federal income tax return AND;
    • Both spouses are residents of North Carolina or both spouses had North Carolina taxable income.
  • When you file a joint return, you must include the names and social security numbers of both spouses on the return.
  • A married couple who files a joint federal income tax return may file a joint State return even if one spouse is a nonresident and had no North Carolina income.  However, the spouse required to file a North Carolina return has the option of filing the State return as married filing separately.  Once a married couple files a joint return, they cannot choose to file separate returns for the year after the due date of the return.

What should I do if I filed a joint federal return, but I want to file a separate North Carolina return?

  • If you file a joint federal return and your spouse is a nonresident of N.C. and had no taxable income, you may file a joint N.C. tax return or file a N.C. tax return as married filing separately.  Once you file a joint N.C. tax return, you cannot choose to file a separate N.C. tax return for that year after the due date of the return.  If you choose to file the N.C. tax return as married filing separately, you must complete either a federal tax return as married filing separately reporting only your income and deductions or a schedule showing the computation of your separate income and deductions and attach it to your N.C. tax return.  Note: Itemized deductions of a married couple may be claimed by a spouse only if that spouse was obligated to pay the items and actually paid the amount during the year.  In case of a joint obligation (such as mortgage interest and real estate taxes), the deduction is allowable to the spouse who actually paid them.
  • On joint returns, both spouses are jointly and severally liabile for the tax due.  However, a spouse will be allowed relief from a joint State income tax liability attributable to a substantial understatement by the other spouse if the spouse qualifies for innocent spouse relief of liability for federal tax attributable to the same substantial understatement by the other spouse under Internal Revenue Code Section 6015.

Filing Requirements Chart for Tax Year 2017

 

Filing Status A Return is Required if Federal Gross Income Exceeds
(1) Single $8,750
(2) Married - Filing Joint Return $17,500
(3) Married - Filing Separate Return  
If spouse does not claim itemized deductions $8,750
If spouse claims itemized deductions 0
(4) Head of Household $14,000
(5) Qualifying Widow(er)/Surviving Spouse $17,500
(6) Nonresident alien 0

Note: There is no additional standard deduction available for taxpayers age 65 of older or blind. Also, there is no longer a separate chart for children and other dependents.