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Savvy Senior: What are this year’s income limits for filing a tax return?

Dear Savvy Senior: What are the IRS income tax filing requirements for retirees this tax season? I didn’t file a tax return the past two years because my income was below the filing threshold, but I got a part-time job late last year, so I’m wondering if I’m required to file this year. — Retired Worker

Dear Retired Worker: Whether you are required to file a federal income tax return this year will depend on how much you earned in 2023, as well as the source of the income, your age and filing status.

Here’s a rundown of this tax season’s IRS tax filing requirement thresholds:

For most people, this is pretty straightforward. If your 2023 gross income — which includes all taxable income, not counting your Social Security benefits, unless you are married and filing separately — was below the threshold for your filing status and age, you probably won’t have to file. But if it’s over, you will.

Single: $13,850 ($15,700 if you’re 65 or older by Jan. 1, 2023).

Married filing jointly: $27,700 ($29,200 if you or your spouse is 65 or older; or $30,700 if you’re both over 65).

Married filing separately: $5 at any age.

Head of household: $20,800 ($22,650 if 65 or older).

Qualifying surviving spouse: $27,700 ($29,200 if 65 or older).

To get a detailed breakdown on federal filing requirements, with information on taxable and nontaxable income, call the IRS at 800-829-3676 and ask them to mail you a free copy of the “1040 and 1040-SR Instructions for Tax Year 2023,” or you can see it online at IRS.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040gi.pdf.

Other situations

Be aware that there are other financial situations that can require you to file a tax return, even if your gross income falls below the IRS filing requirements. If you earned more than $400 from self-employment in 2023, owe any taxes on an IRA, health savings account or an alternative minimum tax, or get premium tax credits because you, your spouse or a dependent is enrolled in a Health Insurance Marketplace plan, you will need to file.

You also will need to file if you’re receiving Social Security benefits and one-half of your benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest exceeds $25,000, or $32,000 if you’re married and filing jointly.

To figure all this out, the IRS offers an online tax tool that asks a series of questions that will help you determine if you’re required to file, or if you should file because you’re due a refund. It takes less than 15 minutes to complete.

You can access this tool at IRS.gov/Help/ITA — click on “Do I Need to File a Tax Return?” Or you can get assistance over the phone by calling the IRS helpline at 800-829-1040.

Tax preparation help

If you find that you do need to file a tax return this year, you can do so for free at IRS.gov/FreeFile if your 2023 adjusted gross income was below $79,000.

Or, if you need some help, contact the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (or TCE) program. Sponsored by the IRS, TCE provides free tax preparation and counseling to middle- and low-income taxpayers 60 and older. Call 800-906-9887 or visit IRS.treasury.gov/freetaxprep to locate services near you.

You can also get tax preparation help through the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide service. Call 888-227-7669 or visit AARP.org/findtaxhelp for more information. You don’t have to be an AARP member to use this service.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.

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