Managing Your Taxes
For anyone receiving or trying to secure Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, understanding your federal tax obligations may be more difficult than ever. Some of the questions that commonly come up during this process include:
- Do I still need to file a tax return even if I'm currently out of work?
- Are my SSDI monthly payments taxable?
- How is my retroactive SSDI award taxed?
- Are there any tax breaks for somebody in my situation?
- Where can I get help filing my taxes?
Do I Need to File a Tax Return?
According to the IRS, you must file a tax return if your total income is above a certain level for the year. Depending on your filing status and age, most people will have to file a 2012 tax return based on the following income levels:
If your filing status is…
AND at the end of 2012 you were*…
THEN file a return if your gross income** was at least…
|65 or older||$10,950|
|Married filing jointly***||under 65||$19,500|
|65 or older (one)||$20,650|
|65 or older (both)||$21,800|
|Married filing separately||any age||$3,800|
|Head of household||under 65||$12,500|
|65 or older||$13,950|
|Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child||under 65||$15,700|
|65 or older||$16,850|
* If you were born on January 2, 1948, you are considered to be age 65 at the end of 2012.
**Gross income means all income you received in the form of money, goods, property and services that is not exempt from tax, including any income from outside the United States (even if you can exclude part or all of it).
*** If you did not live with your spouse at the end of 2012 (or on the date your spouse died) and your gross income was at least $3,800, you must file a return regardless of your age.
Source: IRS website
Why You Should File a Tax Return
Even if you don't have to file a tax return, you may still want to do so for several important reasons. Whether it's a federal or state income tax return, you want to file if you or your spouse had any income taxes withheld by an employer during the year. Simply put, if you don't file a return, you will not get a tax refund.
Also, you want to file a tax return to take full advantage of any tax breaks or credits available to low and moderate income taxpayers. There are even some credits (like the Earned Income Tax Credit) that are refundable. This means that if you qualify for the credit, your taxes could be reduced to the point that you get a refund instead of owing any taxes.
Filing a tax return also can be used to establish your low-income level to qualify for various forms of financial assistance.
Other Tax Resources
- Taxation of Social Security Disability Income
- Tax Credits for Lower Income Taxpayers
- Free Tax Filing Assistance