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Tax Season 2023: Do senior citizens on Social Security have to file taxes?

Tens of millions of Americans receive Social Security retirement benefits each month, but many recipients may not be aware of the tax implications.

Do senior citizens on Social Security have to file taxes?

At the beginning of 2023 more than 53 million Americans over the age of 65 received retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The monthly payments are the most widely used form of federal financial support and are a vital form of support for senior citizens. But many recipients are unsure about the tax implications.

With tax season well underway, the deadline to file 2022 tax returns is Tuesday 18 April, many are asking whether seniors who receive Social Security payments need to file a tax return.

In short, senior citizens are largely subject to the same tax requirements as other adults. There is no age at which you no longer have to submit a tax return and most senior citizens do need to file taxes every year.

However if Social Security is your only form of income then it is not taxable. In the case of a married couple who file jointly, this must be true of both spouses.

In fact, if your taxable income is below $14,250, or $28,700 for married couples, then you will not be liable to pay income tax on those earnings and will not be required to file a tax return.

How are Social Security retirement benefits taxed?

Since 1983 Social Security payments have been taxed when the recipient’s earnings put them above a certain threshold. However for even the highest earners on Social Security, the whole amount will never be taxed in full. The top level is 85% of the total Social Security benefit received.

To be taxed on your Social Security benefits you need to have a total gross income of at least $25,000, or $32,000 for couples who file jointly. If you earn more than that – at least $34,000 for an individual or $44,000 for a couple – you will see up to 85% of your benefits payments subject to tax.

To calculate whether or not you are liable to pay tax on Social Security benefits, you can do so by completing the IRS’ Figuring Your Taxable Benefits worksheet. You may find that your taxable income has risen by between 50-85% of your annual Social Security benefits amount.

During tax season, all Social Security recipients will receive a Social Security Benefit Statement (Form SSA-1099), detailing the full amount of benefits received in 2022. Use this to calculate your liability for this tax season.


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