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Seniors and taxes: are there any tax breaks for older folks?

A successful over-50 professional golfer, Jay Haas, once attributed his success in part to the fact that his golf ball did not know how old he was.

In a sense, the same is true of taxes. In general, the tax code doesn't want to know how old you are; it merely wants to tax you on your income, regardless of age.

There are, however, some exceptions to this general rule for senior citizens. In this post, we will discuss whether there are any tax breaks that apply specifically to seniors

First of all, let's be clear about how the IRS defines the term "senior." As Publication 554 explains, tax breaks for older folks do not come into play until age 65. It's true that in some contexts in American life, a "senior" may be someone under 65. But that is not the case for the federal tax code.

But if you have reached age 65, there are indeed some tax benefits that it is worth knowing about. For one thing, once you have reached 65, the threshold for deducting medical and dental expenses on your tax return becomes lower. If you are at least 65, or have a spouse who is that age or older, the medical and dental expense deduction kicks in when those expenses are more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.

Taxpayers who are 65 or older also get a higher standard deduction than younger taxpayers. For those who don't itemize deductions, this can be a useful break.

These are only a couple of the specific tax benefits available to senior citizens. If you are uncertain about other aspects of tax compliance for seniors, we encourage you to contact our firm to discuss your specific situation.

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