A common question for seniors after they turn 65 is whether or not they should continue to file tax returns. Most seniors receive income from social security and perhaps a pension or interest and dividends. Their income is often below the federal filing thresholds which, for 2018 is $13,600 for single seniors and $26,600 for married seniors if both are over 65. But for seniors living in New York City (NYC), there are a few good reasons to file returns even if they are not required to.
First, there are refundable tax credits all NYC residents are entitled to if they meet certain requirements. Refundable tax credits are called “refundable” because they allow you to receive a tax refund even if there is no tax due. NYC residents can claim the $63 refundable NYC school tax credit on their NY return, but if they are filing only to receive this credit they can use form NYC 210.
There is also a refundable NYC enhanced real property tax credit that can be claimed either on your NY return or by filing form NYC 208. In addition, there is the NY State refundable real property tax credit that can be claimed on your return or by filing form IT 214.
Second, federal and state tax returns can be used to verify your income for many NYC supplemental programs such as SCRIE (Senior Citizens Rent Exemption). Submitting a tax return may simplify the application process for some programs.
Third, if your income is above the filing threshold and you are required to file a federal and state return, there are credits and exemptions that may reduce or eliminate your tax. For example, the federal tax credit for the elderly and disabled can reduce or eliminate your federal tax. And New York exempts from state tax all social security income and pension income below twenty thousand dollars which can significantly reduce your NYS tax.
You can find help with your taxes at your local AARP or VITA sites. Their volunteers will prepare and electronically file your tax returns for free. Click on the link below to find a VITA/TCE site near you. Be aware that because this service is so popular, there is often a wait time. It is always a good idea to call ahead and to confirm what documents to bring and see if they can take you on your chosen day.