Brenda Lyle – Florida Today

Q: I’m retired now. Should I still file taxes?

A: I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage that nothing in life is certain ­­–except death and paying taxes. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all got to a certain age and taxes just went away? Sigh. While you likely experienced a decrease in income transitioning from work to retirement, you might still need to file an income tax return. Why? Because taxation is not a function of your age –but your income.


Who needs to file

How much tax you pay is a function of your total income and your filing category. According to the Social Security Administration, 40% of people who receive Social Security must pay federal income taxes on their benefits. Single taxpayers that receive Social Security plus other income will have to file a tax return if their combined income is more than $25,000. Married taxpayers have to pay income taxes if their combined income is more than $32,000. According to TurboTax, “If the ONLY income you receive is your Social Security benefits, then you typically don’t have to file a federal income tax return.”


But wait –there’s more

Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can also be taxed if your income meets a certain threshold.  Your annual SSA 1099 shows how much your earnings are from Social Security and whether federal taxes have been withheld. Supplemental Security Income, a benefit for a special category of people, is not taxable. Becoming a widow will likely change your tax bracket the year following the death of your spouse.


Review yearly

It is important to review your tax filing status every year. The IRS has a credit for elderly or disabled that may reduce your tax burden! If you have significant medical expenses, like private duty care, prescription drug costs, health insurance premiums etc., you may be able to itemize deductions instead of taking a standard deduction. Taxpayers aged 65 or older who don’t itemize deductions are entitled to a higher standard deduction, so you’ll want to do the math.


Need help?

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offers free tax help for low to moderate-income seniors at Tax-Aide sites around the nation. The IRS programs, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly are often in community locations like libraries. For the computer savvy, the IRS Free File program offers free online tax prep and filing. Veterans can use the online MilTax to file returns for free. Still need help? Call One Senior Place in Viera at 321-751-6771 for a list of local resources.


One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.