The amount you can earn before paying taxes varies each year. It’s hinged to standard deduction and exemption amounts, which are indexed for inflation and increase yearly. If you earn more than the standard deduction plus one exemption, you must file a return and pay taxes. Otherwise, you would report your income and then take these deductions; this would result in a zero or negative balance, so there would be nothing to tax. The standard deduction is $6,200 for a single taxpayer for the 2014 tax year, and personal exemptions are worth $3,950 each. Therefore, you can earn $10,150 before you have to pay taxes. This goes up to $10,300 for the 2015 tax year.