The income range for low income varies depending on the purpose that it provides. Some organizations use low income to determine eligibility for certain social service programs. The Internal Revenue Service establishes limits for the lower tier of taxpayers, providing them with more benefits. The predominant means of measuring poverty comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Census Bureau Measurements
For 2010, the Census Bureau provides that a family of two adults with no children is below the poverty level if their combined income is less than $14,634. This is for persons under the age of 65. Over the age of 65 the limit is $13,209. A family of four, made up of two adults and two children under the age of 18, has a limit of $22,162.
U.S. Department of Education Measurements
The U.S. Department of Educations considers a family of two with an income below $22,065 pursuing postsecondary education as below the poverty level for specific programs. The limit for a family of four is $33,525. These limits serve the Office of Postsecondary Education when determining which persons need help in achieving their collegiate goals.
LIHEAP Clearinghouse Measurements
LIHEAP Clearinghouse is a federally funded program that helps people of low income to pay their heating and electric bills. The levels are similar to those of the Census Bureau. The organization considers a family of two low income if their earnings are below $14,570 in 2009 and 2010. A family of four earning less than $22,050 is considered low income for this program.
Internal Revenue Service Measurements
For the Internal Revenue Service, low-income taxpayers receive more favorable tax rates. For example, the lowest two tax brackets are eligible for a capital gains rate of 0 percent. The income limits for a person filing single is $34,000. For a couple filing married and jointly, the limit is $68,000. There are other stipulations that apply with favorable tax benefits. This is not a measure of poverty.
Christine Aldridge is a financial planner who has been writing articles related to personal finance since 2011. She has bachelor's degrees in political science from North Carolina State University and in accounting from University of Phoenix. Aldridge is completing her Certified Financial Planner designation via New York University.