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Tired of Taxes? At What Age Can You Stop Filing Income Taxes?

Whether you have to pay taxes in retirement depends on your income.

Chris Scott

Contributing Writer at Tally

March 9, 2022

As you approach retirement, you may ask, "What age can you stop filing income taxes?" The answer to this question has more to do with earnings and less with age. 

In this article, we'll cover:

  • If and when you can expect to stop filing income taxes

  • How your retirement income may impact you if you owe taxes 

  • How to lower your tax liability

With this knowledge, you can potentially better align yourself for retirement

What age can you stop filing income taxes? 

There’s no set age at which the IRS says you no longer have to file income tax returns or pay income taxes, and it’s not as though you reach an age that absolves you of your tax bill. 

Income thresholds determine when you’re required to file, regardless of your age. (We'll touch on that more below.) Additionally, there are stipulations surrounding Social Security benefits. If your only income is from Social Security payments, you may not have to file income taxes. 

The earliest you can start collecting Social Security is 62. So, that would hypothetically be the age at which your filing status changes, and you no longer have to submit a return to the IRS. But again, this is based on taxable income and has less to do with age. 

Also, as a disclaimer, you should be mindful of your state tax laws, as well. State tax laws can vary from one place to the other. You may be required to file taxes in a state if you:

  • Own a home in that location

  • Rent a residence in that location for a certain amount of time

  • Earn income in that state during the tax year 

Speaking with a tax professional, like a CPA, can help you understand your situation and what you need to be mindful of when filing taxes. 

What are the income thresholds for the IRS?

There are income thresholds that define who needs to file a tax return with the IRS. If you have little or no income, you may not have to file taxes. The income thresholds are based on gross income. 

Gross income refers to "all income you received in the form of money, goods, property, and services that isn't exempt from tax.” 

If you are older than 65 years of age, based on the IRS rules for the 2021 tax year, you must file a federal income tax return in the following circumstances:

  • Your filing status is single, and your gross income was at least $14,250

  • Your filing status is head of household, and your gross income was at least $20,500 

  • You're a married couple filing jointly, one of you is older than 65, and your combined gross income was at least $26,450 

  • You're married filing a joint return, both of you are older than 65, and your combined gross income was at least $27,800 

  • You're married filing separately, and your gross income was $5 

  • You're a qualifying widow, and you earned at least $26,450 

For tax-filing purposes, you’re considered age 65 if you turn 65 at the end of your tax year. For the 2021 tax year, anyone born before January 2, 1957, is considered 65 or older.

Remember, income thresholds are subject to change by the IRS each tax year, so it’s good to double-check them before filing each tax season.

How do Social Security benefits impact filing requirements? 

Now that you know your gross income is a primary factor in whether you have to file taxes, you may be wondering how Social Security benefits factor in.

In some cases, you won’t need to pay taxes on your Social Security, but it all comes down to your combined income

Combined income includes: 

  • Your adjusted gross income 

  • Half of your Social Security income 

  • Your tax-exempt interest 

You’ll need to pay taxes if your combined income is greater than $25,000 as an individual or greater than $32,000 if married filing jointly. However, you won’t pay taxes on more than 85% of your Social Security benefits. How much of your Social Security income is subject to tax will depend on your combined income.

If you’re filing as an individual and your income is between $25,000 and $34,000, 50% of your benefits are taxed0. If your income exceeds $34,000, 85% of your benefits are taxed.

If you’re filing a joint return, 50% of your benefits are taxed if your income is between $32,000 and $44,000. If your income exceeds $44,000, 85% of your benefits are taxed.

For each year you receive Social Security, you should receive a Form SSA-1099 from the Social Security Administration. This form is for tax-filing purposes and outlines how much you received in Social Security benefits for the year. 


Do retirement account withdrawals impact filing requirements? 

Another thing to consider when it comes to your filing requirements is your retirement benefits. Depending on the type of retirement account you have, you may need to take minimum required distributions. You may also choose to make other withdrawals from the account during the year. 

Whether your minimum required distributions and withdrawals are taxable and count as gross income depends on the type of account you have. If you have a Roth 401(k) or Roth IRA, your withdrawals are likely tax-free and don’t count toward your gross income. If you have a traditional 401(k) or traditional IRA, your withdrawals will count toward your gross income and may increase your tax liability.

These are general statements, and each person’s financial situation is different. For instance, Roth income is tax-free, assuming you made qualified distributions. Working with a trusted tax advisor can help you better understand and prepare for taxes in retirement.

Are there ways to reduce your tax liability? 

If you can’t stop filing your taxes yet, look into available credits to help reduce your overall tax burden. For instance, a tax credit for filers designed specifically for senior citizens is known as the Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. This tax credit is in addition to the standard deduction and ranges between $3,750 and $7,500. 

Tax credits like this one could potentially bump you into a lower tax bracket or even yield a tax refund.

The preparation for retirement can start today

There is no magic age at which you're allowed to stop filing taxes with the IRS. However, once you’re over the age of 65, your income thresholds that determine if you’re required to file will change.

You can work with a trusted financial advisor to better understand how much you’re going to owe in taxes as you get older based on your sources of income.

If you're looking for more financial management advice, be sure to sign up for Tally's† email newsletter.

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