Can You Stop Paying Federal Income Taxes at Age 70?

by Bob Haring

    It is income, not age, that determines when you can stop paying federal income taxes. Basically, you have to file a tax return as of publication if you and your spouse, both over 65, had combined income of more than $21,300 or half your Social Security benefits and other income was more than $32,000 combined. If you're single, you have to file if your gross income was more than $10,950.

    Gross income is any money you received from wages, salaries, business profits, securities dividends or pensions or annuities. Your taxable income may include some of your Social Security benefits, although if Social Security was your only income, it's generally not taxable and you won't have to file a return.

    To determine how much of your Social Security may be taxed, add half that amount to your other income. If it's more than $32,000 for a couple filing jointly, some benefits may be taxable. As a general rule, if the total is between $32,000 and $44,000, up to 50 percent of your benefits may be taxed. Above $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxed.

    Income from pensions and annuities that are part of a retirement plan are taxable if you did not pay taxes on them before you contributed money to the plan or if all the contributions came from an employer. If your contributions were taxed but an employer's were not, you'll pay taxes only on the untaxed portion.

    Your tax will be figured after deductions and exemptions from your gross income. In 2012, you're allowed a $3,700 exemption for you and a spouse, a total of $7,400, and a standard deduction for a joint return of $13,900 at age 70. Either of these amounts can be changed in the future. You can itemize deductions, for such things as mortgage interest, if those total deductions will be more than the standard amount.

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    About the Author

    Bob Haring has been a news writer and editor for more than 50 years, mostly with the Associated Press and then as executive editor of the Tulsa, Okla. "World." Since retiring he has written freelance stories and a weekly computer security column. Haring holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.

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