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Summer jobs for teens usually mean tax return filing, too

More teenagers are working this summer. There aren't any jobs out there for young workers. Employers are struggling to find teens to work at traditional summer jobs.

Young food service workerGoogle "teens and jobs" and you'll find all three of those reports on seasonal youth employment.

So just what is the youth employment situation for the summer of 2015? Great, good or terrible depending on where you and your teenage live and the type of work you and your youngster are seeking.

The ebb and flow of youth jobs: The Pew Research Center recently looked at what's happened over the years to the Great American Summer Job.

Drew DeSilver, writing for the nonprofit's FacTank feature, notes that data available since 1948 show that, not surprisingly, teen summer employment has over the decades risen during good economic times and fell during and after recessions.

Generally, the temporary youth employment rate ranged between 46 percent, which was the low in 1963, and 58 percent, which was the peak in 1978.

But after the 1990-1991 recession, the teen summer employment rate barely rebounded. Teen summer employment again fell sharply after the 2001 recession and again failed to rebound, writes DeSilver. Jobs for young workers fell even more sharply during and after the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009.

The teen employment rate dropped to just under 30 percent in the summers of 2010 and 2011. It was 31.6 percent last summer.

So while there are jobs out there, they aren't as plentiful as when today's young workers' parents and grandparents were taking this annual trip down the road to adulthood.

Taxes once you do get hired: Finding a job is just one issue that young workers must deal with this summer. After they finally land a position, then they usually face taxes.

Yep, Uncle Sam doesn't care how old or young you are. If you make money, he typically wants his piece of it.

There are some exceptions.

If you don't earn much at a job, you might not have to pay income taxes. Generally, a worker who is the dependent of another person -- for purposes of this post, we're talking about a minor child living with mom and/or dad -- doesn't have to file an income tax return unless the young employee makes more than the single filer's standard deduction amount.

For the 2015 tax year, that's $6,300.

I don't know about you, but if I was making less than $6,300 for giving up my summer fun, I'd quit. But that's just me.

If you do make more, then you'll likely have to file a Form 1040 next filing season.

Teen workers and jobs 2014 summer data_Pew Research CenterTips are taxable: As the Pew graphic on which type of summer jobs young workers tend to get shows, food service work is at top. That could mean the young worker gets tips.

Young wait staff take note. Tips are not free money. They are taxable income. And if you earn $20 or more in cash tips in any one month, you must report your tips for that month to your employer.

Self-employment taxes: Entrepreneurial youngsters also face some added tax tasks. If you net $400 or more from your dog walking or delivery services or computer tutoring summer business, they you'll have to file Schedule SE to pay self-employment taxes.

SE taxes are counted toward your future Social Security and Medicare coverage. These taxes are due even if you don't hit the $6,300 earnings threshold requiring you file a Form 1040.

Filing when it's not required: A young worker might not legally be required to file a tax return, but it still could be a good idea.

This typically is the case when withholding was taken out of the young employee's paycheck. Filing a tax return is the only way a young worker can get that tax money.

While that's still a pain, at least most young workers can file Form 1040-EZ, which, as its name indicates, is the simplest tax return. 

And this relatively easy first filing is good practice for when you get future and better-paying jobs.

You can find out more about taxes and young workers in the latest Weekly Tax Tip on teen jobs and tax issues.

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Regardless that companies are tax return filing, I think it is the best way to utilize our youth in positive direction.

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