Refund? Refund? You don't get a refund. You owe income tax.
Unless your $12,000 of wages and any loans you take out is enough to pay for more than half of your total support, you are his dependent. As his dependent, you don't get to claim your exemption, he does.
Your $12,000 will be reduced by $5800 to $6200. Your tax will be $620, provided this is all from wages. If your withholding is more than $620, you will get a refund, but it's a refund of your money. If your withholding is less, you will owe at tax time. Fica/Mc is never refunded.
Yes, you have to file a return because you have a filing requirement.
"I have done a bit of research but there seems to be conflicting information on the internet with regards to the "Kiddie Tax" laws and what constitutes unearned and earned income. "
Then your research is faulty. For kiddie tax purposes, earned income is money from a W-2 or from a schedule C. EVERYTHING else is unearned. That includes the usual (interest, dividends, capital gains) as well as taxable social security benefits, unemployment, inherited IRAs, for kiddie tax purposes only.
The reason the refund is not big deal can be summed up using Judy's old example. You go to Wal-mart and buy a $5 item. If you pay with a $20, you get $15 back. if you pay with a $10, you get $5 back. The $5 item still costs you $5. Think of the price as your tax bill and think of your payment as your withholding.