Tax Return Rules for Senior Citizens

Many seniors receive benefits as part of their income, however whether or not those benefits are taxable is reliant on any other benefits or income received throughout the year. Monthly retirement, survivor, and are all included in , although supplemental security income (SSI) benefits are non-taxable and therefore not included in general Social Security benefits.

Generally, if the only income you receive is from Social Security, then you won’t be subject to taxation and aren’t required to file a return. However, if you have any additional income from other sources, you may have to pay taxes on the total amount.

In order to determine if your benefits are taxable, you’ll need to know the base amount of income for your filing status as follows:

  • single, head of household, or a qualifying widow(er): $25,000
  • married filing separately and lived apart from your spouse for the entire year: $25,000
  • married filing jointly: $32,000
  • married filing separately and live with your spouse at any time during the tax year: $0

Once you know your base amount, you should take half of the amount you receive in Social Security benefits and add all of your other income. If that total is higher than the base amount as per your filing status, there’s a good chance the excess will be taxed.

Taxpayers who file a joint return should combine their benefit amounts and incomes in order to figure out taxable amounts, regardless of whether only one or both spouses received benefits.