Rampulla & Newstad LLP

As tax season approaches, it’s a crucial time for individuals of all ages to ensure their financial responsibilities are in order. For seniors, managing annual tax returns can sometimes be a daunting task. This article will dive into some insights, tips and resources for seniors to navigate during tax season, so they can take control of their financial responsibilities with confidence and ease.

Do-It-Yourself or Find Someone for Help?

Whether it seems like it or not, the IRS tries to make filing tax returns as simple as possible so regular everyday people should be able to file on their own. However, when high income, unique assets, or even retirement plans come into play, this makes filing a tax return a little bit more difficult.

Some seniors prefer to do their taxes on their own because they have always done it that way, and they do not like other people handling or viewing their financial picture. Social Security provides a “benefits worksheet” for seniors to do the math and figure out if they owe tax on their social security income for the year. However, if this isn’t done correctly, the taxpayer could be in a bit of trouble.

Luckily, there are services available to help people over the age of 60 file their tax returns. The IRS has a program called Tax Counseling for the Elderly (“TCE”) which is a volunteer service that helps seniors file their tax returns for free. The volunteers who help with this must pass a rigorous exam on tax law and tax filings, so they are skilled and qualified to perform this service. Simply do an online search for a TCE filing service or call your local social security office which should be able to help.

Know the Rules

Within the tax filing itself, seniors should be aware of the rules that apply differently to them. If you are filing your own return, be aware that with age, you may be entitled to some extra benefits, including an increase in the standard deduction (if you don’t itemize your deductions). There are also additional benefits if you or your spouse is blind or disabled, depending on what that person’s level of care is. Be sure you are getting everything you are entitled to, and not missing out on benefits that are there for you!

Beware of Scammers

Authorities warn that tax time is one of the busiest times for scammers, who will call or email posing as the IRS, and asking for personal information. You should never wire money over the phone, and you should hang up if you believe the person on the other side of the phone is a scammer. Also, make sure your direct deposit information is correct when entering it into any online tax preparation websites, to ensure your refund gets where it’s supposed to go. The IRS has a webpage dedicated to examples of scams that have been brought to their attention.

So, as we navigate tax season, it’s imperative for seniors to make informed decisions that align with their preferences and circumstances. Understanding the specific rules and benefits applicable to seniors can significantly enhance financial outcomes. Moreover, in a world rife with scams, a vigilant eye is crucial during tax season to safeguard personal information. Let’s ensure our seniors not only meet their tax obligations but also do so with confidence, armed with the knowledge and support necessary for a secure financial future.