Home Personal Finance As retirees worry about tax surprises, these filing resources may help

As retirees worry about tax surprises, these filing resources may help

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Seniors may face new challenges this year as the tax season begins.

record 5.9% Social Security cost of living adjustment Last year probably boosted their income.

On the other hand, other income such as required minimum distributions, other retirement account withdrawals, or part-time or full-time jobs can make filing more complicated.

Ah Recent research The Senior Citizens League found that 57% of senior taxpayers are worried that their Social Security benefits will be taxed more.

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The good news is that quality help is available, and in some cases, free, to assist with tax filing.

February 1, AARP Foundation Taxpayer Program plans to start offering free in-person and virtual tax help.

The program focuses on low- to moderate-income taxpayers over the age of 50.

However, according to AARP Tax Assistant Lynnette Lee-Villanueva, it is available to tax filers of all ages who do not have complicated returns.

Lee-Villanueva said of her post-pandemic return, “This is the first year we think we’re really going back to having the majority of our sites open directly.

Tips for planning for retirement

“Our volunteers are looking forward to meeting people in person,” she said.

Seniors can also seek help from other tax professionals to meet the April 18 federal return deadline this year.

As tax season begins, it’s important to have a meeting, even if it’s just for a few minutes, before you work with someone to make sure you’re on the same page.

“Get a feel for how you can relate to this person and how you feel you can be open,” Osaven said.

Where can I get free tax help

According to Lee-Villanueva, AARP’s Tax-Aide program is the largest volunteer-based tax assistance program in the country.

This program works in conjunction with the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs to provide eligible individuals with free basic tax preparation.

AARP’s Tax-Aide will deploy 25,000 volunteers at 3,500 locations in all 50 states and Washington, DC this year.

We save people a lot of money.

Lynette Lee-Villanueva

Vice President of AARP’s Tax Advisor

To find a location near you and see if you need to make an appointment or visit in person, you can find more information at AARP Tax Aide website Or call 888-AARPNOW (888-227-7669).

“We can save a significant amount of money, typically hundreds of dollars that we would have had to pay to have a paid personal tax return preparer prepare the return,” said Lee-Villanueva. .

“It’s money back in their pockets that they really need,” she said.

In addition to the current tax year, the program will also help you file returns for the last three years.

Anchie | Anchie | E+ | Getty Images

This could help filers who may have previously been eligible for the extended tax credit but have not yet received that amount. The government has temporarily made child tax and earned income tax credits more generous. Lee-Villanueva said this includes workers aged 65 and over who could have benefited from the earned income tax credit if they were still working in 2021.

To receive the best service from the Tax-Aide program, you must collect all the relevant information you need, including social security paper documents, 1099 forms, pension income, and bank statements.

Indeed, Lee-Villanueva said not all filers, including those who earn rental income from their property and, in most places, active-duty military personnel, are eligible for the taxpayer assistance program.

Tips for finding a tax professional

O’Saben says there are a few things seniors should know before seeking free tax assistance or hiring a tax professional to help them file their taxes.

First, tax laws are not age dependent. “You can’t be too old or too young to be taxed,” Osaven said.

Instead, your income determines whether you need to file a federal return.

O’Saben said if Social Security is your only source of income, you likely won’t need to apply. But that may change with additional income.

“Communication is the most important theme for seniors when filing taxes,” said O’Saben, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

If you are looking for a new tax accountant, ask friends and family for recommendations.

When meeting with an expert for the first time, ask questions to make sure you are on the same page. Don’t be afraid to ask questions throughout the submission process.

Also, please come prepared with all relevant forms and information. If you have opted for digital-only communications on some accounts, be sure to include those forms.

Be prepared with a little homework.

Tom Oseiben

Director of Tax Content and Government Relations, National Association of Tax Professionals

Note that not all transactions, such as charitable donations from personal retirement accounts, come with government documentation that the money was sent, O’Saben said.

“Do a little homework and be prepared,” said Osaven.

You can also hire a tax professional to help you, but remember that your signature is the one who signs the tax return at the end of the process. This means that you are personally responsible for all information on the form.

Also, watch out for tax experts and software that promise large refunds without knowing your financial situation, O’Saben said.

“If you don’t feel comfortable, you need to find another professional,” says O’Saben.

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