Tax Tips for the Elderly

February 13, 2020

Those who file their own taxes are likely to make mistakes, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Some of the most common errors have to do with the standard deduction for seniors, the taxable amount of Social Security benefits, and the Credit for the Elderly and Disabled. The following are tax tips for elderly persons who plan on filing their own taxes this year.

Standard Deduction for Seniors

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act raised the standard deduction amount, making it less advantageous for most people to make itemized deductions. However, those who choose to itemize may qualify for medical and dental expense deductions if those expenses total more than ten percent of their adjusted gross income.

Both filers who itemize and those who claim the standard deduction may write off business expenses, including supplies, travel expenses, and the square footage of home offices. Standard deduction amounts for 2020 are as follows:

  • Single: $12,400
  • Married filing jointly/surviving spouses: $24,800
  • Married filing separately: $12,400
  • Heads of Household: $18,650
  • Individuals who may be claimed as a dependent: the greater of $1,100 or the sum of $350 and the individual’s earned income

Seniors who do not itemize their deductions may qualify for an even higher standard deduction amount if they and/or their spouse are aged 65 or older. Those filing as single or head of household who are aged 65 or older or legally blind may increase their standard deduction by $1,650. Married couples filing jointly may increase their standard deduction by $1,300.

Social Security Benefits

The IRS cautions seniors to be careful when calculating the taxable amount of Social Security. To determine whether benefits are taxable, first calculate the total of one-half of your benefits plus all your other income, including tax-exempt interest. Then, compare that number to your base amount for your filing status. Base amounts are as follows:

  • Single, head of household, or qualifying widower: $25,000
  • Married filing separately and living apart from spouse for previous year: $25,000
  • Married filing jointly: $32,000

If the total is less than the base amount for your filing status, none of your benefits are taxable. However, if the total is more than your base amount, some of your benefits may be taxable.

Credit for the Elderly and Disabled

Only those filing using Form 1040 or 1040A are eligible to receive this credit, which is based on age, filing status, and income. To qualify:

  • You and your spouse must be either 65 years old or older, or permanently and totally disabled
  • Your income on Form 1040, line 38 must be less than the set amount based on your filing status
  • The non-taxable amount of your Social Security or other nontaxable pensions, annuities, or disability income is less than the set amount based on your filing status.

Brooklyn Elder Law Lawyers at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP Help Seniors File Their Taxes

Filing your taxes on your own can be confusing. If you have any questions regarding taxes, contact a Brooklyn elder law lawyer at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP. We can help you determine which credits and deductions you qualify for to maximize your return. Our skilled attorneys serve clients throughout the state, including in Manhattan, Long Island, and Westchester, New York from our offices in Brooklyn, New York, and Lakewood, New Jersey. For an initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 212-495-8133.