2021 is here and so is tax season. This time of year can be stressful for anyone, but it can be even more stressful for seniors who are trying to navigate tax preparation and filing. If you are a senior, or you are a family member of a senior, you may need help filing taxes.
Here are a few tips to helping seniors during tax season:
1. Beware of Scammers
Tax season is the perfect time for scammers to try to take advantage of the elderly. Too often con artists will make unsolicited contact via text, email, or phone to try to obtain personal information. They are sometimes threatening or intimidating by claiming to be a higher authority. Remember that the IRS will not make unsolicited calls, nor will they ask for personal information, including your social security number, over the phone. Never wire money over the phone, and never buy prepaid cards or gift cards to pay for “dues” they say you owe.
2. Calculate Your Social Security
Social security benefits alone can be confusing. But trying to figure out the taxable amount of those benefits can be overwhelming. If you are a senior preparing your own taxes, it is imperative to CAREFULLY complete the Social Security benefits worksheet. Tax season is the perfect time for scammers to try to take advantage of the elderly. Too often con artists will make unsolicited contact via text, email, or phone to try to obtain personal information.
3. Know What You’re Entitled To
As a taxpayer age 65 or older, you can qualify for extra tax breaks. For example, you can get a bigger standard deduction, a higher tax-filing threshold, property tax breaks, a tax credit if you also have low income, and best of all…free tax help! Be sure to check your resources for additional tax benefits. Because of the Coronavirus global pandemic, the IRS maintains the latest updates on Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payments. You can find more information by clicking here.
4. Get Free Tax Help
The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program provides free tax assistance for taxpayers age 60 years or older. IRS-certified volunteers, who are knowledgeable about tax issues relevant to seniors, will review your taxes and assist with basic tax preparation and electronic filing. You can locate the nearest TCE representative near you on the IRS website.
5. Get Ready for Next Year
Now is the time to get organized for next year. Ensure your electronic records and paper documents are easily accessible. This will make it less stressful during next year’s tax season.