calculator, pen, and a formThis year, the federal tax deadline is Monday, April 18. For elderly members of our country, there are few things to consider with regard to filing, meeting all legal requirements, or seeking necessary deductions as a result of unique situations.  If you’re like the 41% of Americans who wait until the last few weeks to complete this process, here are a few tips for you to remember as you fill out and before you submit your tax form.

Social Security:
Benefits received from Social Security are usually not taxable income. If you live solely off of these benefits, you are not required to file taxes as your gross income is considered 0, unless you have additional sources of income that exceed $11,850. In that case, you are required to report and file that amount minus the funds you receive from Social Security. For married couples, the minimum amount of combined income $23,100. There are exceptions, however, and instances in which you will be required to include your benefits when you file.  For instance, if you live with your spouse and receive social security benefits, but choose to file separately, your benefits are considered part of your income. Also, if as an individual you make more than $25,000, or $32,000 as a couple filing jointly, you are required to include a portion of your benefits as gross income.

Medical Expenses:
On average, seniors spend about 20% of their incomes on health care. Thankfully, there are a number of deductions you can receive from the government as a result. Any medical expenses that exceed 10% of your gross income are deductible. This includes insurance premiums that haven’t been deducted from Social Security, out of pocket cost and co-pays for medical treatment and prescriptions and other medical expenses incurred and paid during the year that will not be reimbursed per your insurance. Long term care insurance premiums meet this requirement as well.

 

If Someone Else Can Claim You: 
If you take care of your elderly parent, who is a U.S., Canadian or Mexican citizen, there is an opportunity to include them on your taxes as a dependent. To do so, your parent would have to be exempt from filing themselves, with a gross income that is less than $4,000 (not including Social Security payments or other non-taxable income), though it may change from year to year, and that information can be found on the IRS website. Also, your parent only qualifies as a dependent if you’ve provided more than half of their support in the filing year. Support includes cost of housing, food, utilities, medical bills, etc. This support can result in an exemption up to $4,000.

There are additional things to consider like, whether the income tax refund counts as income, or what you should do in a situation where you’ve donated money or sold your home. For more on that, check out Elder Law Answers’ website, which includes a comprehensive list of things to remember and consider before filing.

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