When you enter your "golden years," you expect to earn less money, but the Internal Revenue Service softens the hit to your income with a few tax credits and deductions only someone of retirement age can take. However, you must meet other qualifications to take any type of credit or deduction, and retirement may exclude you from some credits. Part-time work opens up more opportunities for you to lower your taxes.
Most tax credits do not require you to be a senior citizen, but some tax credits exclude seniors and retired persons. For example, you must be under the age of 55 to claim the health coverage credit and not be entitled to Medicare benefits. A few credits only go to seniors. If you are over the age of 65, you can claim the elderly or disabled tax credit when you meet the requirements of the credit. For instance, you cannot make more than $24,999 in adjusted gross income or have more than $7,499 in nontaxable Social Security or pension income if filing a joint return in 2011.
Working part time usually qualifies you for more credits. In 2011, for example, you only need to earn $6,451 to take the $400 refundable Making Work Pay tax credit -- meaning you receive any overage once your tax bill goes below zero -- or $800 if you file a joint return. You can also take the earned income tax credit if you have a qualifying dependent, such as a child. Other credits that might pertain to you are the child tax credit for having a child under 18 in your home and the adoption tax credit for costs incurred adopting a child.
You can claim tax credits and deductions concurrently. The IRS raises the standard deduction -- the deduction you take when you do not itemize your actual deductions -- for people over the age of 65. You can deduct medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of your income and $250,000 on the sale of a home for single taxpayers or $500,000 for joint filers -- important if you want to sell your home and move into a smaller dwelling. You can also deduct charitable contributions and business expenses, such as a home office.
If you take the elderly or disabled tax credit, you cannot use the short 1040 or 1040-EZ. Also, talk to a tax professional about state tax credits. States often have tax laws that mirror those of the federal government. When you cannot afford tax help, your local community may offer assistance, or you can call the IRS about free help under the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program.