If you are an elderly adult, you may be eligible to claim the senior credit. This credit is also known as the credit for the elderly or disabled. It is a federal credit that you can apply to your tax returns if you are a qualifying senior or a disabled person and meet specific income requirements. If you qualify for this credit, it can provide you with a substantial benefit because it might pay for any taxes that you might owe, resulting in a potential tax refund. At Elder Care Direction, we can explain the senior tax credit and tell you whether or not you might be able to claim it on your tax returns.
Who is eligible for the senior tax credit?
Not all seniors will qualify for the senior tax credit. In order to take the credit, you must meet the following requirements:
- Turn age 65 or older before the tax year’s end or be receiving permanent and total disability or retired and have taxable disability income if younger than age 65
- Must be a U.S. resident or a U.S. citizen
- Must meet the income eligibility limits as described below
What are the income limits for eligibility for the senior tax credit?
The Internal Revenue Service updates its publications about the senior tax credit. The updates include the current income limits to be eligible to take the credit. The following table is accurate as of 2018:
Senior tax credit income limits
|Filing status||Adjusted gross income||Or the total of the nontaxable pensions, annuities, Social Security, or disability benefits|
|Single, head of household, or qualifying widower||$17,500||$5,000|
|Married filing jointly with only one qualifying spouse||$20,000||$5,000|
|Married filing jointly with both spouses qualifying||$25,000||$7,500|
|Married filing separately and you have lived separately for the entire year||$12,500||$3,750|
You must meet both the income eligibility limits as well as the previously described criteria to claim the senior tax credit on your tax return.
How do I claim the senior tax credit?
You can claim the senior tax credit on your federal income tax return by completing a Schedule R in addition to your IRS Form 1040. You can locate the Schedule R in the forms and publications section of the IRS website.
If you get married before the end of the tax year, you generally are required to file a joint return if you want to claim the senior tax credit. However, you are allowed to file separate returns if you and your spouse did not live together at any time during the tax year. You can find more information about how to complete and file a Schedule R on the IRS’s website.
The IRS also provides a free tax preparation program called the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program or VITA. This program is available to people who qualify. In particular, people who are ages 60 or older and who make under $53,000 per year can access tax preparation services through VITA for help with preparing both the Schedule R and the income tax return. IRS-certified volunteers in the VITA program assist with tax counseling and preparation. You can find a VITA program near you by checking the locator on the IRS’s website.
State tax credits for seniors
Some states have enacted their own senior tax credits and exemptions that can be used on your local or state tax returns. For example, California offers a senior citizen head of household credit. Massachusetts and multiple other states provide circuit breaker credits to seniors based on their rent or real estate taxes that they have paid during the year. You should check with your state’s treasury department or revenue agency to learn about any exemptions or credits for seniors that might be available to you in your state.
Other things to consider
Only senior citizens who qualify and who file their own returns are able to claim the senior tax credit. This means that an otherwise qualifying senior who is listed as a dependent on another person’s tax return would not be able to benefit from the senior tax credit. It may still be beneficial for a senior to be claimed as a dependent, however, because there may be other available tax benefits for the taxpayer who files. He or she may be eligible to claim deductions for medical expenses, dental expenses, home care costs, and adult care costs.
Another person can claim a senior citizen as a dependent on his or her tax returns if the filer provides more than 50% of the senior citizen’s financial support. The senior citizen must also have lived with the filer for a calendar year, and there are also other factors.
Talk to Elder Care Direction
The professionals at Elder Care Direction are dedicated to helping seniors and their family members to identify and access all of the resources that are available to help them to meet their needs. We are able to help to guide you through the many different issues that may arise during old age. Our staff can talk to you about the senior tax credit and other potential tax benefits for which you might be eligible. We are also able to refer you to a partner attorney if you need further legal assistance and can help you to save money on completing initial paperwork. To learn more about the help that we can provide to you, call Elder Care Direction today to schedule a consultation.