As Ben Franklin famously stated, there are only two sure things in life, and one of them comes every April 15. Yes, we’re talking about tax season.
In this blog article, you’ll learn more about ways to make the process simpler and safer this year, as well as deductions you may be able to take.
Keeping your information secure during tax time
Many of us have received phone calls or emails from people claiming to be the IRS or other tax departments.
While these calls may seem threatening, you should ignore them. The IRS will never call you with threats of arrests or litigation. All IRS initial communications will come in the mail, not via phone call or email.
If you’re communicating with your tax preparer via email, be aware of what you’re including. Sensitive information should never be sent via email or over a public Wi-Fi network. In addition, only share information about your taxes with people who absolutely need to know.
If you suspect you are a victim of tax identity theft, follow these steps from the IRS to report your concerns and get help.
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How should you do your taxes?
These days, there are several ways people can complete and file their income tax returns. You may choose to do them yourself, use personal tax software, or find a tax professional.
If you’ll be selecting a new professional tax preparer this year, keep some of the tips from this Forbes.com article in mind:
Ask if they have a PTIN (preparer tax identification number). This is required for anyone preparing federal tax returns as part of their job or business.
Find out what their background and experience is like. If you have special circumstances, ask if they’ve prepared a return like yours before.
Ask what paperwork they will need from you. Using just a pay stub isn’t sufficient - and the IRS won’t accept it. You’ll need to show your W-2, 1099, 1098, or other forms of income identification.
Be suspicious if they promise you’ll get a large refund. That isn’t something they can guarantee, especially without looking at your return.
Determine how their fees are set before you choose them.
Ask if they will file your return electronically and who will sign it.
If you earn less than $54,000 a year, you may qualify for free help from the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA). Visit the IRS website to find a location near you and find out what you should bring.
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What deductions can seniors take?Our taxes change as we age. You may be eligible for additional refunds as well as required to report different items.
Standard deduction for seniorsYou may get a higher standard deduction amount if you don’t itemize your deductions, if you or your spouse are 65 years or older, and if either you or your spouse are blind.
Taxable Social Security
Check with the IRS to determine which Social Security benefits are taxable and how they should appear on your return.
Tax credits for elderly or disabled people
Depending on your age, filing status, or income, you may be eligible for additional tax credits.
Deductions for medical expenses
According to TurboTax, after Jan. 1, 2019, “You can deduct only the amount of the total unreimbursed allowable medical care expenses for the year that exceeds 10 of your adjusted gross income.” See the full article for a list of deductions you could take.
Deductions for senior living expenses
Seniors may be able to take a deduction for assisted or independent living expenses. However, the amount may vary depending on your specific situation. Consult with a tax professional for more information on this deduction.
Looking for more ways to simplify?
Are you looking for more ways to simplify your life and make it a bit easier? How about decluttering?
Read our downsizing and decluttering guide for tips on getting started with shrinking the clutter and streamlining your life.
While these tax tips are general guidelines, each person’s taxes and situation are different. Information about deductions and deadlines may also change. This article should not be construed as specific tax advice. You should consult with a trusted tax professional if you have questions about preparing your taxes or the deductions you could receive.