With tax season in full swing, it is important for seniors to get themselves organized and ensure their taxes are completed fully and accurately. This can be a stressful time for everyone, but it is possible to navigate the system smoothly. Here are 4 Tax Preparation Tips for Seniors:
1. Review your credits and benefits
People 65 years of age and older are eligible for many tax benefits – some of which might even seem surprising. One such benefit relates to itemization. There is a standard senior deduction, and this could be higher than the deduction you would get if you itemized your deductions instead. Another benefit to knowing is the Care for the Elderly or Disabled credit. This benefit only applies to people who are disabled or have a spouse that is disabled, and the amount you can expect to receive is based on your age, your filing status, and your income.
2. Be wary when dealing with Social Security
Determining the taxable amount of your Social Security benefits can be a painful process. If you typically prepare your own taxes, you must complete the Social Security benefits worksheet as carefully as possible. It might even be a good idea to ask for two forms so you can double-check your work. Keep in mind – if your provisional income exceeds $32,000 a year, then you have to pay taxes on your Social Security.
3. If at all possible, have someone prepare your taxes for you
Being careful is the best way to avoid paying too much and understanding when you are entitled to more. If this all already seems like too much, it might be wise to have someone prepare your taxes on your behalf. Even better – you can likely get this service for free. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) is a service available to taxpayers 60 years or older. Volunteers certified by the IRS will go over your taxes with you and help you through everything – including your final filing. The IRS-certified volunteers are also knowledgeable about pensions and other items relevant to seniors. The IRS website has a useful locator to help you find a TCE representative close to you. Experts are available – why not take advantage?
4. Watch out for scammers
Scammers find every opportunity to prey on innocent people. And it is not unusual for them to try and take advantage of older adults during tax season. If you get a weird phone call, email, or text from the “IRS,” you need to ignore it. The agency will never use these methods of communication to request any personal information.
Scammers try and capitalize on every tragedy, natural disaster, holiday, and other negative occasions to take advantage of innocent people including older adults. It’s important to know that the IRS and other government agencies will never try and contact you through phone, text, email, or any other method, to request personal information from you. If you do get a scam call, definitely hang up (and keeping hanging up if they keep calling). Don’t let them frighten you by saying you owe back taxes. Do not wire anybody money over the phone. You can learn more about Scams here.
For more resources about all aspects of senior living and lifestyle, including other financial tips, visit BoomersHub to access information and guidance vetted by experts.