Most people groan at the thought of tax season. For the last few decades, you may have been paying taxes on your investments and accounts, and then paying to have an accountant figure it all out for you, which might have left you with a nasty taste in your mouth about the whole season.
However, seniors who recently turned 65 might be pleasantly surprised when they sit down to file this year. Not only are these older adults eligible for larger standard deductions, they may get breaks because of their age, senior care needs or lower income levels. Plus, they are eligible for a number of free tax preparation services.
Looking to get your taxes done for free? Check out these programs.
The IRS runs the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for individuals who make less than $51,000 and need help preparing their tax forms. Volunteers who are certified by the IRS can help seniors prepare and electronically file their income tax forms. Like paid accountants, these individuals are knowledgeable about tax credits that apply to seniors, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly or Disabled, saving older adults more money in their return.
Best of all, these volunteers are conveniently located in communities. Seniors may be able to visit seek these services in local schools, community centers and libraries. You can find a location near you using the IRS VITA Locator Tool online or by calling 1-800-906-9887.
Having some trouble with your taxes? The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free help for everyone, but gives priority to individuals over age 60. The IRS-certified volunteers who man these stations specialize in topics such as pensions, retirement funds and other issues specific to seniors.
TCE programs are often run by non-profit organizations that are funded by the IRS. AARP runs the largest operation, called the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program. Started in 1968, this free service has helped almost 50 million low- to middle-income taxpayers. Although its 40-plus year history seems to say enough about its effectiveness and popularity, AARP also did a survey to determine taxpayer satisfaction with the program. The organization found that the Tax-Aide program has a 95 percent satisfaction rate.
These volunteers set up workshops at nearly 6,000 local schools, churches, community centers, senior living communities and other locations in communities across the nation during tax season. You can find one near you using AARP's Site Locator Tool or by calling 888-227-7669.