Many taxpayers mistakenly believe that if they are currently unemployed or have been unemployed for an extensive period of time, then they shouldn't file taxes. While taxpayers who fall into this category may not be required to file a return, it may be beneficial for them to do so. This is simply because some IRS credits are refundable, which means that taxpayers don't necessarily need a tax liability to qualify for a refund.
Complete a return which reflects what income (if any) you did have during the tax year in question. Begin by completing the IRS 1040 series form which best fits your needs. Since you are claiming a dependent, it would probably be best that you use Form 1040 or 1040A instead of Form 1040EZ. Form 1040EZ is the shortest and easiest-to-understand tax form, but it does not allow for the deduction of as many credits as Forms 1040 and 1040A, and since you are not working, you will need to claim as many deductions as you are eligible to claim.
Input your income in the income field designated. In the exemptions section, list the name, Social Security number, date of birth, and qualifying child status of any child you are claiming. The qualifying child designation is important, because for many credits, such as the Child Tax Credit, your child must have qualifying child status for you to receive the credit. For the purposes of the Child Tax Credit, a qualifying child is one who lived with you for at least six months plus one day, was under the age of 17 at the end of the tax year, is a U.S. citizen, is your son, daughter, brother, sister, stepchild or foster child, and did not provide over half his own support. Next, enter your federal tax withheld, along with any additional information required to complete the return.
Consult IRS Publication 17 or call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to speak with a tax law specialist. Since you have a dependent, you could qualify for one of the many IRS refundable credits. For example, taxpayers can qualify for the Earned Income Credit if they earned income from wages or self-employment during the tax period in question. Since the credit is designed for low-income taxpayers, it only requires a small amount of income. Of course, this would be of no benefit to taxpayers who earned no income, but keep in mind this is not the only refundable credit the IRS offers. Other refundable IRS credits include the Adoption Credit, Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit and the Mortgage Interest Credit.