The Norman Transcript

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February 12, 2013

Which seniors need to file a tax return this year?

NORMAN — Dear Savvy Senior, My income dropped way off when I retired early last year, and I’m wondering if I fall into the so called “47 percent” of Americans who won’t have to pay and income taxes this year. What can you tell me?

— Curious Senior

Dear Curious,

The percentage of seniors, age 65 and older, who won’t have to pay income taxes this year is actually around 56 percent, according the Tax Policy Center. Here’s a breakdown of the 2012 filing requirements along with a few other tax tips to help you determine if you need to file.

IRS requirements: Whether you’ll need to file a federal income tax return this year will depend on your filing status, your age, and your gross income. If your gross income falls below the IRS filing limits, you probably won’t have to file. Gross income includes all the income you receive that is not exempt from tax, not including Social Security benefits, unless you are married and filing separately. You probably don’t have to file this year if:

You are single and your 2012 gross income was less than $9,750 ($11,200 if you’re 65 or older).

You are married filing jointly and your gross income was under $19,500. If you or your spouse is 65 or older, the limit increases to $20,650. And if you’re both over 65, your income must be under $21,800 to not file.

You are head of household and your gross income was below $12,500 ($13,950 if age 65 or older).

You are married filing separately and your income was less than $3,800.

You are a qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child and your gross income was less than $15,700 ($16,850 if age 65 or older).

Special situations: Be aware that there are some special financial situations that require you to file a tax return, even if your gross income falls below the IRS filing requirement. For example, if you had net earnings from self-employment in 2012 of $400 or more, or if you owe any special taxes to the IRS such as alternative minimum tax or IRA tax penalties, you’ll probably need to file.

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