There’s a reason most people get help filing their taxes: taxes are really, really complicated. Between social security, tax credit, exemptions, deductions, property taxes, there are a ton of complex things to keep up with. It’s no surprise that a number of seniors get intimidated when it comes to filing their taxes. There are changing technologies, changing tax rules, and fixed incomes can all make tax season difficult for seniors. Here are some of the best ways to get tax help for seniors.
Get Tax Help for Seniors
Whether or not you already have an AARP membership, or know someone who does, this is a great way to go. The AARP Foundation has tax aide services that can be a lifesaver for seniors. The best part is that you don’t even need to be an AARP member to take advantage of this great service! It’s available for anyone over 50, free of charge. You can meet with these tax professionals free of charge online or in person, whichever you prefer! That way, if you would rather talk face-to-face, or if you prefer to file form the comfort of your home, you’re set either way!
The volunteers who work for the AARP Tax-Aide program are also IRS-certified tax professionals. These aren’t amateurs who are going to mess up your taxes, these are people who are certified and know what they’re doing! That way, you can rest assured knowing you’re getting the help you need with your taxes and the peace of mind that includes.
If you go for an in-person session, you’ll be glad to hear that they’re available all throughout tax season, from January to April 15th. Generally, these visits occur in convenient and public locations. Community centers, public libraries, banks and shopping malls are all common locations for these visits, so you need not worry about meeting in person. These locations are in public, well-lit and easy to access, so you don’t have to worry about getting to the meeting location.
Best of all, the online side of this tax service is available year-round to answer your questions about taxes. If you have any burning questions you need answered and want to be ahead of the curve, this is a great way to go! That’s what happens when you go through an organization as helpful as the AARP.
Federal Government Tax Assistance
There are two tax services offered by the IRS. There’s the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program. If you go through the IRS website, you can find in-depth information on both of these programs. Both the VITA and TCE programs have physical locations throughout the country you can visit to receive direct, in-person help with your taxes.
Firstly, the VITA is a good program for those seniors who still earn some income, such as through a part-time job or perhaps through owned property. The VITA program typically helps those who do not speak English fluently, disabled people, people under a certain income level and the elderly. These services are primarily geared at seniors who make an amount of money under a certain threshold. Generally, those seniors who make more money than this threshold should consider going with professional paid tax services.
The TCE, for its part, is geared more for seniors who aren’t sure where to turn for tax help. The service is specifically for seniors of age 60 or older who are on a fixed-income. These types of people are the exact ones that the TCE was created to help. If you or someone you love lives on a fixed income and needs income tax help, the TCE is the right call to help. They help seniors with things like retirement income and pensions, as opposed to traditional income methods. The free service is also volunteer-based and offers help during tax season. The volunteers are all IRS-certified professionals.
Both the VITA and TCE programs offer help with state taxes as well as federal taxes, so this usually shouldn’t be a huge concern for seniors. However, beyond this, some states do offer a state-specific tax program to help seniors if they have state-specific tax questions. While such situations would be rare, if a senior needs help with complex aspects of their state taxes in particular then they should look into whether their state offers a tax program.
In the event it doesn’t, don’t panic! The bar association of your state may provide pro-bono legal help to seniors seeking tax advice. Local CPAs or other professionals may also offer help for seniors at no cost, so consider looking into these avenues!