“Three factors control whether you can qualify for the senior tax credit, also known as the Credit for the Elderly or Disabled. You must meet all three of the requirements.”
Seniors can get tax breaks, but they must use the correct forms and follow the detailed instructions to the letter. The IRS provides guidance on qualifying for the senior tax credit.
Three factors control whether you can qualify for the senior tax credit, also known as the Credit for the Elderly or Disabled. You must meet all three of the requirements.
- Age. You and/or your spouse must either be 65 or older, or permanently and completely disabled; AND
- Filing Status. If only one spouse qualifies and you file your tax returns as married filing jointly, your line 38 income on Form 1040 must be less than $20,000. If you file as a single person, head of household, or qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child, your line 38 income must be less than $17,500. If you both qualify and you file as married filing jointly, your line 38 income must be less than $25,000. If you are married but you lived apart from your spouse the whole year and you file married filing separately, your line 38 income must be less than $12,500; AND
- Income – the nontaxable portion of your disability income, annuities, Social Security or other nontaxable income must be less than:
- $3,750 if married filing separately and you lived away from your spouse the whole year;
- $5,000 for single, head of household, qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child, or married filing jointly but only one spouse qualifies;
- $7,500 for couples who both qualify and who file married filing jointly.
You do not automatically get the senior tax credit. You must complete Schedule R and file it with your federal tax return.
Helpful Tax Tips for Seniors
Besides the Credit for the Elderly or Disabled, seniors who do not itemize their deductions can get a higher standard deduction on their federal income taxes. You can qualify for the higher standard deduction if you and/or your spouse are 65 or older. If either of you are blind, you will also get a bonus level standard deduction.
Some seniors pay taxes on their full Social Security benefits, but only a portion of these benefits is taxable. When doing your taxes, take great care to calculate the taxable Social Security benefits. There is a Social Security benefits worksheet in the Form 1040 and 1040A instructions. Be cautious and complete the worksheet twice. It is similar to the adage of cutting a board:
measure twice, cut once. When calculating the taxable part of your Social Security, do the math twice, so you only pay what you owe.
Check to see if your state also gives tax breaks to seniors. Your state’s Department of Revenue (your state may call it something different) will have information on tax breaks for seniors.
You can get free tax help, if you are 65 years or older. The IRS sponsors volunteer tax assistance programs across the United States.
Since the laws are different in every state, talk with an elder law attorney in your area.
Efile.com. “Can I Claim the Senior Tax Credit for the Elderly and Disabled?” (accessed September 6, 2017) https://www.efile.com/tax-credit/disability-tax-credit/
Findlaw. “The Senior Tax Credit: Do I Qualify?” (accessed September 6, 2017) https://elder.findlaw.com/elder-care-law/the-senior-tax-credit-do-i-qualify.html
IRS.gov. “Tips for Seniors in Pr4eparing Their Taxes.” (accessed September 6, 2017) https://www.irs.gov/individuals/seniors-retirees/tips-for-seniors-in-preparing-their-taxes