When you have income other than Social Security after you retire, you may have to file a tax return. Filing requirements for retired persons vary depending on your age and on the source and amount of your income. Distributions from retirement plans and annuities may or may not be taxable. You must figure in any taxable income when determining if you have to file a tax return.
The Internal Revenue Service sets minimum income levels each year for taxpayers, and you must file a return if your gross income exceeds the threshold that applies to you. As of 2012 the threshold for taxpayers under 65 filing as single was $9,750. For a married couple filing a joint return the threshold was $19,500. If you were married and filed separately, the gross pay threshold was $3,800.
65 and Over
Once you reach age 65, you get an additional deduction of $1,450 added to your income threshold if you file as single, bringing the gross income for required filing to $11,200. For married couples filing a joint return, the extra deduction increases the minimum threshold to $20,650 if one spouse is 65 and $21,800 if both spouses is age 65.
Social Security retirement benefits are not included in your gross income unless other income exceeds IRS limits. To see if part of your Social Security benefits may be taxable, add one-half of your Social Security benefits to your adjusted gross income. If you are single and the total is $25,000 or more, part of your Social Security benefits may be taxable. You will have to report them and pay taxes when you file your tax return. The threshold for a married couple filing a joint return is $32,000.
Many retired persons draw money from IRAs and other retirement plans. When distributions are taxable, you have to file a tax return and report the money you receive. For some retirement plan withdrawals, such as qualified distributions from a Roth IRA, the money you take from the account is not considered taxable income and you need not report it. Regardless of your overall income, you must file a return if you owe uncollected taxes, if you make $400 or more from self-employment, or $108.28 or more from church employment.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, W D Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about business, personal finance and careers. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.