Updated in January 2024
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 what deductions are most common for seniors, ways to make the process simpler and safer this year, and tips on finding a good tax preparer.
Common Tax Deductions for Seniors
Our taxes change as we age. You may be eligible for additional refunds as well as required to report different items.
- Standard deduction for seniors. You 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. Check here to see the qualification criteria.
- Deductions for medical expenses. Medical expenses are only deductible to the extent that they exceed 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income. See the full article for a list of medical expense deductions you can take.
- Deductions for senior living expenses. Seniors may be able to take a deduction for skilled nursing or assisted living expenses. However, the amount may vary depending on your specific situation. Consult with a tax professional for more information on this deduction.
How To Keep 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 arrest 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 public Wi-Fi. Many tax preparers use a secure document upload system to help make sharing documents more convenient. You can also drop off paper copies of your W-2 and other forms.
In addition, make sure you 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 To Find a Good Tax Preparer for Seniors
There are several ways you can complete and file your income tax returns. You may choose to do them yourself, use personal tax software, or find a tax professional.
If you are 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 are 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 first.
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 $64,000 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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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 differ. 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.