Tax Preparation Tips for Seniors

By Vicki Honeycutt

Tax season can be a daunting time for seniors and family caregivers. But with the right information and resources, the process can be smoother than expected. In this guide, we've compiled tips and strategies to help seniors navigate the tax preparation process with ease.


Organization is key to a seamless tax preparation process. Collect all relevant documents, including Social Security statements, income documents, and receipts for potential deductions. Keeping these documents in one designated place will simplify the filing process and minimize stress come tax time.

Deductions & Credits

Seniors have access to unique tax deductions that can significantly impact their tax refund. Familiarize yourself with the higher standard deduction available for individuals aged 65 and older. Understanding these senior-specific deductions ensures that you don't miss out on valuable tax benefits.

  1. Standard Deduction for Seniors: The IRS offers a higher standard deduction for individuals aged 65 or older. Seniors can benefit from this tax break if they meet the following criteria:
  • Received Social Security payments
  • Took few or no payments from retirement savings, IRAs, and pensions
  • Did not run a business
  1. Tax Credit for Elderly/Disabled Individuals: Seniors and disabled adults may qualify for the Credit for Elderly or Disabled. This tax credit offers additional relief for low-income individuals. Seniors must meet income thresholds and specific criteria to qualify for this credit.
  2. Care for the Elderly or Disabled Credit: This credit offers tax benefits for seniors or their spouses who are disabled. Age, filing status, and income all determine the amount of the tax break.
  3. Medical Expense Deduction: If seniors opt for an itemized deduction, they can deduct certain medical bills. You may deduct any medical expenses that are greater than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. This could offer a greater benefit to older adults with significant healthcare expenses.
  4. State Tax Deductions: In addition to the federal tax breaks, many states offer benefits and exemptions to older adults. However, these deductions vary greatly from state to state.

Free Tax Assistance Programs

When filing your taxes, you don't have to go at it alone. The IRS provides free tax assistance to help make the process easier for older adults.

  1. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA): VITA provides free tax help to individuals making $60,000 or less. Trained volunteers assist with basic income tax return preparation and electronic filing. This program is a valuable resource for seniors with straightforward tax situations.
  2. Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE): TCE is a tax program specifically designed for individuals aged 60 and above. IRS-certified volunteers, associated with non-profit organizations like the AARP foundation, address issues such as pensions and retirement-related matters. The VITA Locator Tool or a phone call to 800-906-9887 can help locate the nearest VITA or TCE site.

In addition to these resources, there are free tax software systems available that can help. You can also look for individuals or organizations in your community that can assist with taxes.

Social Security Considerations

According to the Social Security Administration, 40% of people who receive Social Security must pay taxes on their benefits. But calculating the taxable amount of Social Security benefits can be challenging.

You may be required to pay taxes on Social Security benefits if you meet the following criteria:

  • Filing taxes as an individual: If your income is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50% on your benefits. If your income exceeds $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 85% of your benefits.
  • Filing taxes jointly: If you and your spouse have an income between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50% of your benefits. If your combined income exceeds $44,000, up to 85% of your benefits may be taxable.
  • Married filing separately: You will likely pay taxes on your Social Security benefits.

If this sounds confusing, don't worry. The Social Security Administration sends out a benefit statement each year (SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S). This document will help determine if your benefits are taxable. Seeking professional assistance or using multiple worksheets for verification can also ensure accurate calculations.

Tax Scams

Seniors should be cautious of unsolicited communication claiming to be from the IRS or other agencies. Scammers often target vulnerable individuals, like the elderly. Hanging up, never providing personal information, and avoiding purchases of prepaid debit or gift cards can protect against scams.

Navigating tax season as a senior or family caregiver may initially seem overwhelming. With these comprehensive tips, individuals can confidently approach tax preparation, maximize benefits, and safeguard against potential pitfalls. If you have any questions, consult with a tax professional.

Tags: Finances