Tax Deductions for Seniors

If you’re looking for ways to slash your taxes in retirement, we’ve got you! Here are some tax benefits for seniors you need to know about to cut taxes and enjoy wise savings.
Senior elderly man cutting tax paper on white background

There are many perks to getting older. Getting wiser. Getting more focused on what really matters. Getting grateful for family, friends, and loved ones. But one thing that always puts a spring in your step is capitalizing on tax benefits for seniors.

As a senior, there are a number of tax deductions you may be able to take advantage of. This can help reduce your taxable income and lower the amount of money you have to pay in taxes.

As your birthday may be coming up soon, it’s time to look for—and enjoy the rewards of hitting 65—and beyond.

In today’s Senior Assistance Club guide, we'll go over some of the most common tax deductions for senior citizens. We'll also provide instructions on how to claim these deductions on your tax return. So, let's get started!

1. Living In a Tax-Friendly State

One of the best strategies for saving taxes on retirement income is based on where you live. The choice is yours to live in or move to a tax-friendly state.

Investopedia offers insights into tax strategies for your retirement income. Seven states have no income taxes: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. In 2021, Tennessee will join the group.

States can’t tax residents on retirement benefits earned in another state. That means that if you earn a pension in New York and relocate to Florida or Texas, this income would not be subject to state taxes.

Some states have special breaks for retirement income and or low-income taxes. These are important considerations for looking at maximizing your income in later years.

2. Being Strategic About Social Security Benefits

If your situation affords the possibility, consider deferring benefits until age 70. You’ll earn additional credits to boost your monthly benefits at that time. Plus, you won’t have to pay taxes now on the benefits.

3. Reassessing Your Investments

You might want to change your investment holdings in retirement. Look for moves that help you preserve principal and save on taxes.

Interest from municipal bonds is free from federal income tax. However, the interest may affect the tax on Social Security benefits.

If you receive stock dividends, they are taxed at more favorable rates than ordinary income. This varies depending on your taxable income and may be 0, 15%, or 20%.

Use losses to offset capital gains. You may be able to reduce or eliminate taxes on the gains. Check-in with your financial advisor or tax consultant to use losses to offset gains, and possibly carry these forward.

4. Taking Higher Standard Deduction

If you take a standard deduction, you’ll be able to deduct more after 65. The standard deduction amount is higher for people over 65 or blind. It is also higher if you’re unmarried, and not a surviving spouse.

5. Finding Room to Shelter Income

Contributions to a 401(k) are limited to a set amount per year. In 2022, for those 50 and older, you can put in $27,000 per year. But this assumes that you’re still working, and your employer participates in a 401(k) plan.

If this doesn’t apply to you, you may be able to contribute an extra $1,000 per year to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA. Check with your accountant to see what will work for your personal situation.

6. Deducting Medical Expenses

Medical expenses can drain a hole through your savings, but they can help increase tax deductions in senior citizens. If you itemize, you may be able to deduct unreimbursed medical expenses. However, this applies only to the amount in excess of 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

Also, if you’ve recently purchased long-term care insurance, you may be able to add to the premiums in 2020. The older you are, the more you can deduct from your taxes in retirement. Check with your accountant to explore options.

7. Downsizing and Selling Your Home

If you’ve been dreaming of downsizing and selling your long-time home, there are tax benefits. The IRS lets you exclude from your income up to $250,000 of capital gains on the sale of your home. If you’re single. If you’re married, the exclusion rises to $500,000.

There are a number of conditions to qualify for this tax benefit such as:

  • The house has to have been your primary residence
  • You must have owned it for at least 2 years
  • You have to have lived in the house 2 of the 5 years before the sale
  • You haven’t excluded a capital gain from a home sale in the past 2 years

Be sure to consult your tax attorney for details regarding your unique situation.

8. Deducting Business Expenses

Many seniors and retirees are running their own businesses or starting new ventures. Business income and necessary reasonable expenses to do your business may be deductible. You may want to talk with your tax advisor or consult Nolo’s site for more insights into Business Tax & Deductions.

9. Reducing Interest on a Home Loan

You may be able to claim a deduction for interest paid on a home loan if you're 60 or over. The loan must have been used to purchase your home.

To claim the deduction, you’ll need to complete a form and submit it to the tax office. The deduction can be claimed as a lump sum or as a reduced monthly amount.

If you're claiming the deduction as a lump sum, you'll need to provide proof of interest paid. If you're claiming the deduction as a reduced monthly amount, you won't need to provide proof of interest paid.

10. Lower Your Rent

Tax deductions are also given to seniors who are currently renting their homes. This deduction can help to offset the cost of your rent, which can be a significant expense for seniors on a fixed income.

To qualify, you must be aged 60 or over and your annual income must be less than $22,000. The deduction is calculated based on the number of days you've rented your home, so if you move around frequently, you may not be able to claim the full amount.

However, even if you can only claim a partial deduction, it's still worth doing because it can reduce your taxable income and potentially lower your overall tax bill.

Assistance Club Summary

The big idea: Take advantage of tax benefits as you get older.

With a diligent approach, you can stay on top of choices, decisions, and strategic moves. Be sure to talk with your financial advisor and tax accountant. These professionals may be able to offer insights that give you benefits you may have overlooked.