Do Seniors (65+) Have to File Taxes? + FAQs

Lana Dolyna, EA, CTC
Lana Dolyna, EA, CTC

Senior Tax Advisor

Seniors have tax filing requirements like everyone else. There is no age when a senior gets to stop filing a tax return, and most seniors are required to file taxes.

The taxpayer’s taxable income determines whether a tax return is required. The rules for seniors are slightly different than those for people under the age of 65.

We’ll look at the situations where a senior may not have to file taxes, but if you are over 65 and are unsure if you need to file a return, you should consult a tax professional.

When Do Seniors Have to File Taxes?

If a senior’s sole source of income is social security, they do not need to file a tax return. If they are married, then this must be true for both spouses.

Single seniors must file a tax return when their taxable income is over $14,700 in 2022. If their filing status is married filing jointly, they will need to file when their taxable income is over $27,300.

If a senior’s taxable income is below these thresholds, they do not need to file a return for the year. Seniors should keep in mind that their filing requirements may change each year if their income varies.

Seniors may also want to file a tax return even if not required to file if they have passive losses or net operating losses (NOL) that may carry forward to future tax years.

When Can Seniors Stop Filing Taxes?

There is no specific age when seniors are no longer required to file a tax return. If a senior’s only source of income is social security, they can stop filing tax returns. For seniors with income in addition to social security, their taxable income determines whether they need to file a return.

The filing thresholds noted above change slightly each year to adjust for inflation.

For 2022, people over 65, single, and who have more than $14,250 in income outside of their social security income will need to file a tax return. Seniors who are married will need to file if their non-social security income is over $28,700.

Taxable Income for Seniors

Taxable income for seniors consists of several sources:

Investments

Interest, dividends, and capital gains are also sources of taxable income for senior citizens. Taxable income does not include tax-free interest from municipal bonds.

Wages

If a taxpayer is over 65 and still working in a wage-paying job, the earnings from that position will be taxable. Note that wages earned after age 65 are still subject to social security and Medicare withholding.

Social Security

The taxability of social security income depends on the taxpayer’s total income. As a taxpayer’s non-social security income rises, the amount of social security income that is included in taxable income increases. See the section below on determining how much your social security income should be included in your taxable income.

Other Income

Other income for seniors may include income from partnerships or other closely held businesses, rental income, royalties, or other business income.

Non-taxable income

Non-taxable income for seniors includes municipal bond interest, life insurance proceeds, and certain government benefits such as TANF or housing assistance.

Is Social Security Taxable Income for Seniors?

If social security is a taxpayer’s only income, it’s not taxable.

For taxpayers with over income, you must calculate your provisional income to determine how much of your social security benefits are taxpayers. Provisional income is equal to 50% of your social security income plus your tax-exempt interest plus all other taxable income.

Single people with provisional income between $25,000 and $34,000 and married couples with provisional income between $32,000 and $44,000 will have 50% of their social security benefits included in their taxable income.

Once your provisional income is above those amounts, 85% of your social security benefits are included in your taxable income. The amount of social security income included in your taxable income will never exceed 85%.

If the taxpayer’s filing status is married filing separately but lives with their spouse at any point during the year, then 85% of the taxpayer’s social security income is taxable.

Tax Credits for Seniors

If you are a taxpayer over age 65 or permanently disabled, you are eligible for a tax credit of up to $5,000. The complete rules for qualifying for the credit can be found on the IRS website, including a flowchart for determining your eligibility. Tax credits reduce your tax burden (or increase your refund) dollar-for-dollar.

Seniors are eligible for a higher standard deduction on their return. If you are not itemizing, you can take an extra standard deduction of $1,750 for single filers or $1,400 for married filing joint filers.

FAQs

Questions about at what age can you stop filing taxes? We have the answers.

There is no age when you stop automatically having a filing requirement. Filing requirements are determined by income.

Yes, taxpayers must continue to file unless their only source of income is social security or their non-social security income does not meet the filing requirements outlined above.

Single taxpayers over 65 do not need to file unless their non-social security income is over $14,250. Married taxpayers over age 65 do note need to file unless their non-social security income is over $27,800.

Only a portion of social security income is included in gross income. The amount included in gross income varies from 0% to 85%, depending on the taxpayer’s other income.