Income tax help: Filing tips for seniors

DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: Can you give me the 2006 limits where seniors don't have to file a federal tax return? I manage a senior citizens center and many of our retirees live on very limited incomes and may not need to bother. Also, can you tell me if Social Security benefits are taxable? I start receiving benefits in a few years myself and have heard several conflicting things. -Tax Aiding Tonya

DEAR TONYA: Depending on your income level, your Social Security benefits may be taxable. To figure this out, add up all of your taxable income, plus any tax exempt interest you earned, plus half of your Social Security. If these combined amounts are under the required limits ($25,000 if you file as a single, and $32,000 if you file a joint return), then you owe no tax on your Social Security. But, if the total is greater, you will. For more information, call the IRS (800-829-3676) and ask for their free publication 554 - Older Americans' Tax Guide.

Federal filing requirements: Many older Americans don't have to file income tax returns because their gross income is under the filing requirements. Gross income includes all the income they receive that is not exempt from tax, not including Social Security benefits, unless they are married and filing separately. Here are the 2006 requirements that will help them determine whether or not they need to file a federal tax return.

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