As sure as April showers and college coeds celebrating Spring Break at the beach, it’s tax season! In order to serve the growing need, several senior services groups and senior-oriented organizations offer additional help at tax filing time.
Avoid the Big Four Errors
According to the Internal Revenue Service, there are four errors that tax filers 65 years of age or older are likely to make. They are:
- not taking the standard deduction that they may be entitled to.
- incorrectly determining whether their social security benefits, or portions thereof, are taxable.
- incorrectly calculating the tax on qualified dividends on Schedule D.
- making errors when writing social security numbers (especially of dependents), which can delay processing.
Many seniors could benefit from help in filling out tax forms, but consider the cost of hiring an accountant or other tax professional too onerous. However, there are some senior services that provide free or low-cost help. Check with your local Area Agency on Aging or your library to find resources near you.
You may also want to search online for assistance. For example, the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Foundation Tax Aide program offers free tax preparation assistance to low and moderate income tax payers over the age of 60. The program provides volunteers at nearly 6,000 locations; you can check to see if one is near you by clicking here.
What if you don’t meet the low-to-moderate income requirements of the AARP program, but you still have tax questions? If your questions are about federal taxes, you may find answers online in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the program’s website. Topics covered range from “Who Must File/Which Form to Use” to “Capital Gains: Sale of Home, Assets” to “Computing Taxes Owed, Refunds.”
If you have a question that is not answered in the AARP’s FAQ, you can submit that question to be answered online.
You can also try working with the IRS directly. The IRS does provide telephone assistance through its TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) program and its VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program, both of which can be reached by calling 800-829-1040.
Tax season can be a stressful and confusing time, but senior services resources may make the task less of a chore.