10 Tax Breaks for People Over 50

Once you turn 50, and especially after age 65, you can qualify for extra tax breaks. Older people get a bigger standard deduction, and they can earn more before they have to file a tax return at all. Workers over 50 can also defer or avoid taxes on more money using retirement and health savings accounts.

Here are 10 tax breaks for people over 50:

1. Bigger standard deduction.

2. Higher tax-filing threshold.

3. Property tax breaks.

4. Credit for the elderly and disabled.

5. Additional IRA deduction.

6. 401(k) catch-up contributions.

7. No more early withdrawal penalty.

8. Qualified charitable distributions.

9. Higher HSA contribution limit.

10. Free tax help.

1. Bigger Standard Deduction for Seniors 65 and Older

If you don’t itemize your tax deductions, you can claim a larger standard deduction if you or your spouse are age 65 or older. The 2024 standard deduction for seniors is $1,950 higher than for people younger than 65 who file as individuals. Married couples can increase their standard deduction by $1,550 if one member of the couple is 65 or older and $3,100 if they’re both at least age 65. If you or your spouse is blind, you may also qualify for a higher standard deduction.

[When You Need to Pay Taxes on Social Security]

2. Higher Tax-Filing Threshold

Seniors can earn more income than younger workers before submitting a tax return. People age 65 and older can earn a gross income of up to $15,700 before they are required to file a 2023 tax return, which is $1,850 more than younger workers. The tax-filing threshold for couples aged 65 and older is $30,700 or $29,200 if only one spouse is at least 65, compared to $27,700 for younger couples. However, people below the filing threshold may want to submit a tax return to qualify for tax credits or a refund of income tax that was withheld.

3. Property Tax Breaks

Property tax rules vary considerably by state and local jurisdiction. But in some places, people above a certain who earn below a specific income level can qualify for property or school tax deferrals or exemptions.

For example, in Texas, homeowners age 65 and older are eligible for a $10,000 homestead exemption for school district taxes, in addition to the exemption for all homeowners. Local jurisdictions may provide other exemptions for seniors, so look closely at the specific qualifications for property tax breaks in your area. You may need to fill out extra tax forms or an application before claiming a property tax exemption.

[READ: The Most Tax-Friendly States for Retirees]

4. Credit for the Elderly and Disabled

If you or your spouse are age 65 or older and you have a low income, you could be eligible to claim a tax credit for seniors. To claim the credit, retirees must have an adjusted gross income below $17,500 ($25,000 if both spouses are 65 and older) and nontaxable Social Security and pension income below $5,000 ($7,500 for couples). If only one spouse qualifies for the credit, the adjusted gross income cutoff is $20,000. Younger people who are permanently disabled might also qualify for this credit, which ranges from $3,750 to $7,500.

5. Additional IRA Deduction

Older workers can defer paying income tax on more money than younger people by contributing to an individual retirement account. Workers age 50 and older can save an additional $1,000 in an IRA for a total of $8,000 in 2024.

A 50-year-old worker who pays a 24% tax rate and maxes out his IRA would save $1,920 on his current tax bill. That’s $240 more than the maximum possible tax break of $1,680 for a younger retirement saver in the same tax bracket. Low- and moderate-income seniors who contribute to a retirement account may also qualify for the saver’s credit.

6. 401(k) Catch-Up Contributions

Older workers with a 401(k) plan may be eligible to make catch-up contributions. Employees age 50 and older can defer paying income tax on $7,500 more than younger workers if they contribute that amount to a 401(k) plan, or a total of $30,500 in 2024.

An older worker who pays a 24% tax rate and maxes out his 401(k) plan could save $7,320 on his current tax bill, $1,800 more than a younger worker in the same tax bracket could potentially save. Income tax won’t be due on this money until it is withdrawn from the account. Those ages 60 to 63 will be able to make bigger catch-up contributions beginning in 2025.

[READ: How to Make a Last-Minute IRA Contribution.]

7. No More Early Withdrawal Penalty

Younger workers who raid their retirement accounts are hit with a 10% early withdrawal penalty unless the money is used for a couple of specific purposes. However, once you turn age 59 1/2, you can withdraw money from an IRA for any reason without incurring the 10% tax. And if you leave your job at age 55 or later, you can begin penalty-free 401(k) distributions from the account associated with the job you most recently left. Public safety officers who are 50 or older or who have completed at least 25 years of service with the employer sponsoring the plan can take penalty-free withdrawals at age 50. However, income tax will be due on withdrawals from traditional retirement accounts at any age.

8. Qualified Charitable Distributions

Retirees are typically required to withdraw money from traditional retirement accounts and pay the resulting income tax bill. However, if you don’t need the money, you can avoid income tax on IRA withdrawals by making a qualified charitable distribution.

Retirees ages 70 1/2 and older who transfer any amount up to $100,000 directly from their IRA to a qualified charity will not owe income tax on the transaction for 2023. That amount is capped at $105,000 for 2024. You don’t need to make a huge donation to benefit from this tax break. An IRA charitable contribution of $5,000 could reduce your income tax bill by $1,200 if you pay a 24% tax rate, and a $1,000 donation could save you $240 in taxes.

9. Higher HSA Contribution Limit

Workers with high-deductible health plans can claim a tax deduction on contributions to a health savings account. Distributions from these accounts are tax-free when used to pay for qualifying medical expenses. Individuals who are age 55 or older by the end of the tax year are eligible to contribute up to $5,150 to a health savings account in 2024. That’s $1,000 more than their younger counterparts. Once you enroll in Medicare, you can no longer contribute to an HSA.

10. Free Tax Help

Older people can get help filing their taxes without having to pay an excessive hourly fee. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly program provides free tax assistance to those age 60 or older. IRS-certified volunteers assist older taxpayers with basic tax return preparation and electronic filing between Jan. 1 and April 15 each year. The TCE program specializes in tax issues seniors typically face, including tax questions about pensions and retirement benefits.

More from U.S. News

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The Maximum Social Security Benefit in 2024 — and How to Earn It

10 Tax Breaks for People Over 50 originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 02/26/24: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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