As we age, we sometimes are shocked by how quickly we are running through the money we had so carefully been storing for our Golden Years. If you’ve felt some scarcity regarding your finances this year, you might find yourself dreading the upcoming tax season. It sometimes feels like you always seem to owe money to the government.
There’s also a good chance that you might have questions about your income taxes and your finances, but aren’t sure who to ask. After all, you can’t trust just anyone with your money—and identity theft is a very real concern.
Luckily, there are many resources available which specialize in offering tax help to seniors. Best of all, many of these resources and programs are free of cost to many seniors.
Here are some programs you should consider taking advantage of as a senior this tax season, presented by guest author Virginia Cooper of Learn a Living.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
The United States IRS provides the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for those who make $58,000 or less; persons with disabilities; and those who speak limited English. Anyone falling into at least one of these three categories might qualify for free assistance with tax preparation by these IRS volunteers.
United Way MyFreeTaxes
Make too much per year to qualify for VITA? Don’t fret. You might still qualify for United Way’s free tax preparation services. If you make less than $73,000 per year, visit MyFreeTaxes to see if you qualify. You can also search for a local United Way in your area so you can file in person—for free.
Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)
In addition to VITA, the IRS also offers Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). The TCE program provides free tax help to anyone age 60 or older. TCE specializes in questions related to pensions, retirement, and other related questions which are specific to seniors. All TCE volunteers are certified through the IRS and are often retired individuals themselves - so they’ll be able to better understand your unique situation.
AARP Foundation provides Tax-Aide, a free tax preparation service for individuals over the age of 50 years. At more than 5,000 locations throughout the United States, volunteers offer free assistance to people who have low- to moderate-income levels. Visit aarp.org for more information—and be sure to bring any important tax documents with you to your meeting.
If you qualify for any of these free programs, it is highly encouraged that you take advantage of their free services. They are run by helpful, trustworthy, IRS certified volunteers. Some programs in particular will pair you with a volunteer who is also in retirement, so you can rest assured that your tax preparer understands your unique situation as a senior.
It's also a good idea to stay abreast of different taxes, deductions, and their ramifications. For instance, if you operate a home business, there are several common tax deductions you may be eligible for. There are also a number of property tax considerations to keep in mind if you own your home. Thinking about these things prior to tax season will serve you well when it’s time to file.
And if you still find that you need additional assistance even after seeking help from any of the wonderful programs listed above, you can always reach out to the IRS for help at IRS.gov—or contact a local CPA or accountant for help.
This article is provided by guest author Virginia Cooper, a retired community college instructor. She always encouraged her students to see the real-world value in their education, and now, she wants to spread that message as wide as possible. Her hope is that Learn a Living will be a go-to resource for adult learners embarking on starting, continuing, or finishing their education.