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Senior Finance: Tips for Tax Season

Every year, Summit Home Care Assistance is approached by a number of seniors and their caregivers who find themselves in a position where they aren’t sure whether or not they should file a tax return. The confusion stems from unclear tax laws and a general misunderstanding about the types of income that might qualify as taxable. Here is some general information to help you successfully navigate tax season with your senior loved one.

Determine if Filing is Necessary

Not every senior has to file taxes. Social Security income is generally not considered taxable, but if your senior has any other income, he or she may have to file taxes, even if none of the benefits are taxable. To determine whether Social Security benefits are taxable, add up the value of all income plus half of his or her Social Security benefits. If the total is more than $25,000 (single) or $32,000 (married, filing jointly), he or she will need to file taxes. Otherwise, they may not need to submit a tax form at all.

Look into Available Deductions and Credits

Many seniors don’t maximize their deductions and credits, meaning they wind up paying more taxes than necessary. If your senior loved one is used to filing with the standard deduction, remember that he or she can get a higher deduction if they and/or their spouse are 65 years old or older. If your loved one is 65 or older, they can get an additional $1,100 per taxpayer.

There are also special tax credits for elderly people, like the Credit for the Elderly or Disabled. If your loved one is at least 65 years old or is considered permanently disabled, they can get the credit by filling out the long form 1040 or 1040A.

Get Free Tax Assistance

If you’re still not sure about whether or not your loved one needs to file, or if you know they have to file, but need a low-cost tax preparation office, consult one of the many community groups that offer free tax services for seniors. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly program offers free tax help to people 60 and over, and the AARP has a Tax-Aide concealing program that prepares taxes to low and moderate-income seniors over the age of 60 for free.

Tax laws are constantly changing, and knowing whether or not to file can be confusing for many seniors. Take advantage of the services and information available to make this tax season as easy and stress-free as possible.

If you need more tax help, or you would like to find a part-time caregiver in Summit who can help your senior loved one organize paperwork and get to and from tax appointments, reach out to Home Care Assistance at (908) 450-9400. Our caregivers are expertly trained and can help your loved one with errands, transportation, light housework, and more once tax season is over. We look forward to hearing from you!