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I did run through the data entry in TurboTax, noting the amounts received as attributed to previous tax years, and find that there is no tax liability for him. If I do end up filing a federal return, with a zero tax liability, should I also file a state return (we are in New Jersey) with zero liability as well?

NJ returns aren't necessary because Social Security is neither reportable nor taxable on a NJ return. NJ also does not require a return if gross income is less than $10000. If his NJ gross income were approaching $10K, I would consider filing a return just to establish a statute of limitations for the state to question the return.

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