It’s the time of year that many Americans dread: Tax Season. As taxpayers start preparing to file their taxes, it is particularly important that senior citizens are proactive and aware when dealing with tax preparation.
Here are our top three tips for seniors this tax season.
Beware of Scams
According to a recent report by USA Today, an IRS impersonation fraud has targeted thousands of seniors this tax season. The article states that the scan “involves suspected scammers based in the U.S. and India who telephone Americans and threaten arrests unless purported tax debts aren't paid immediately. At least 1.97 million people have been targeted, with as many as 200 victimized per week during the scam's peak last year, according to the inspector general.”
Seniors can stay safe by first knowing that the IRS does not call, email or send messages through social media. IRS notifications come via the United States Postal Service and it will include a number where you can call or have your tax preparer call to ask questions about any claims.
Use Trusted Tax Preparers
If you are not comfortable preparing your taxes yourself, seek a trusted professional to assist you. Many tax preparation companies out there claim they are trusted and verified, however you should always look for someone who has 5+ years of experience with tax preparation. Additionally, ask your friends, neighbors and family for recommendations. Many people have been using the same tax preparer for years and are happy to provide a referral. If you are looking for a company over an individual, there are well-know organizations like H&R Block that provides affordable tax preparation services. The IRS also provides free tax preparation services for income-qualified taxpayers or those with a language barrier or disability.
Know Your Tax Credits and Deductions
Tax preparation can get complicated and especially if your tax liability has changed since last year. For example, did you retire last year or did you have more out –of-pocket medical or in home care expenses you wish to deduct? The three most important areas to know about when preparing as a senior are, Standard Deductions for Seniors, Taxable Amount of Social Security Benefits and Credit for the Elderly or Disabled. You can learn more on the IRS website or by asking your tax preparer.
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