formats

Help is available for elders at tax time

Q:  When I was working I had my taxes prepared by a CPA. I am now retired and since my income is significantly lower I can’t really afford to have this done by a professional. I should be able to figure all the forms out but frankly it overwhelms me. With the new tax law changes I am going to need help. Time is running out so are there any places I could get assistance?

A:  Your question brings to mind the old quote “nothing is certain but death and taxes”. The phrase is rather fatalistic, let me assure you there are a lot of other people who dread tax time. There is always the worry about whether or not you are going to owe the federal or state money, did you include all the necessary information, were  you able to find every credit or deduction allowable or in the worse scenario will you get audited?

This is not a task you have to tackle on your own so take a breath and relax. Actually there are several no cost programs available to help you out during the filing process. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) is a free service. Trained volunteers specialize in questions about pensions and retirement related issues. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is offered to those individuals who typically make $54,000 or less annually, persons with disabilities or those who are limited in their ability to speak or read English. The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide also is a resource for low and moderate income individuals who require assistance in filling taxes, volunteers are usually located at local senior centers.

The above mentioned programs may not be available in every town. Go on to the IRS locator website at www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-you-by-volunteers to find the closest location. Additional information is listed at the IRS What to Bring Page listing all the required documents and information which will be necessary to file your taxes.

Just a little helpful hint to make the process easier in the future. Start a file and consistently put necessary receipts and forms inside throughout the year to have everything in one place.

 

Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-892-0890.

Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence to ageinfo@esmv.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc., Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services.