Tax Assistance for Seniors: Where To Get Help
8 MIN READ
Published December 04, 2023 | Updated January 11, 2024
With tax laws constantly changing, complicated rules, and exceptions, many people dread tax season. It can be even more challenging for senior citizens with healthcare costs, retirement benefits, and pension payments to keep track of and report each year.
Fortunately, older American taxpayers have a lot of help available. A simple “tax help for seniors near me” online search will show you community-based resources and nationwide tax advice and income tax filing assistance programs from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the AARP, and more. Whether you need someone to file taxes for you or just need a little guidance, these programs can help.
How Tax Assistance Can Help Seniors
When you retire and your income comes down from what was likely your peak income-earning years, it becomes important to take advantage of every financial assistance available to seniors. This includes all the available tax credits and deductions you can qualify for since it all will help cover your expenses and stretch your retirement funds further.
Using tax assistance that’s available to seniors and other retirees will help you make sense of it all and may even help you file taxes for free. Additionally, filing taxes will help you to take advantage of each and every tax credit and deduction that can lower your tax liability.
Tax Benefits and Deductions for Seniors
As a senior citizen, there are a number of tax benefits you can claim in the form of exemptions, credits, and deductions. Once you turn 65, you’ll benefit from a larger standard deduction of $15,700 for single filers in 2023 or $29,200 for married couples filing jointly. This means if you’re in the 22% tax bracket, this can help you save $407 a year in taxes.
Even after retiring, you may be able to continue contributing to your Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) if you have earned income during the year. This can provide you with additional tax deductions if you contribute to your pre-tax Traditional IRA.
If your spouse is still working, he or she can still contribute up to $7,500 for tax year 2023 to a Traditional or Roth IRA in your name–even if you’re not working–by making a spousal IRA contribution. For 2024, this amount has increased to $8,000 if you’re 50 or older.
This means if your spouse has earned enough income, they can contribute to their own as well as make a spousal contribution to your account during the year, for a maximum of $15,000 in total for the both of you in 2023 and a maximum of $16,000 in total IRA contributions in 2024.
These IRA contributions are only restricted to the contribution limits outlined above or the total amount of Earned Income you and/or your spouse have for that specific tax year, whichever amount is smaller.
The IRS also allows you to deduct unreimbursed medical expenses related to vision care, dental care, surgical procedures, and any other health-related treatment. This means you can deduct common expenses related to hearing aids, dentures, contacts, prescription medications, and visits to psychiatrists or other medical specialists, among many others
To deduct them, these expenses must be itemized, and you’ll only be able to deduct the part of the expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.
Some states may offer additional tax relief for seniors through exemptions on property taxes up to a certain threshold. It’s always best to check with your local property tax authority for more information on your specific area. States like Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Washington, and Texas currently have property tax exemptions.
New Jersey, which has the highest property taxes in the country, has also recently announced a tax break for seniors that will take effect in 2026. If you’re eligible, you may be able to save up to $6,500 on property taxes.
4 Tips To Help You File Your Tax Returns
Take advantage of free services for seniors offered by the federal and state governments as well as non-profit organizations. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you file your tax returns for free.
1. Find a Local Tax Service Specialized in Seniors
Since you’ll be filing your tax returns in person in most cases, it’s important to find a qualified, reputable local tax assistance provider near you. Ideally, you want to find a service that caters specifically to seniors and offers programs that provide discounted or free tax filing.
An easy way to find this is by searching “tax help for seniors near me” on search engines like Google. Be sure to read the reviews of past clients. Visit their website or call to see if they offer seniors special programs or services. You would also want to ensure that they’re at a convenient location so you can stop by to visit their office easily.
2. Understand Tax Laws
The U.S. Federal Tax Code is estimated to be nearly 7,000 pages long, containing over one million words, so it’s no wonder that a topic like income taxes can be confusing for most people.
Property tax exemptions, tax credits, Social Security rules, and other nuances can make it difficult for even the most mathematically gifted taxpayers to navigate. The constantly changing rules and complex technology involved with filing make it even more difficult for older adults to understand each year.
If you find yourself in this situation, you aren’t alone. Ask a family member to help you understand and take note of important deadlines, potential penalties, and required documentation to make tax time stress-free. You’ll also be able to find free or low-cost senior tax preparation assistance to make the process much more affordable.
3. Get Professional Help
For seniors, it’s important to get professional help when filing taxes to ensure you’re not missing out on any tax benefits. Your city or town may have special assistance programs for filing federal income taxes and state returns. A professional can help you determine if you qualify for benefits like the earned income tax credit (EITC) and child tax credit.
There are community-run organizations throughout the U.S. to help income taxpayers with personal finance matters like tax filing. Working with a reliable and trustworthy professional can help you take advantage of available tax breaks and make tax filing as stress-free as possible.
4. Get Free Help To Do Your Taxes
While you’ll be able to find many local programs when you search “tax help for seniors near me,” there are also a number of nationwide programs available that you can take advantage of. Here are a few free tax prep resources you should know about:
- The AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program provides free tax assistance to senior taxpayers with low to moderate income.
- The IRS offers Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) to those who are 60 or older through TCE volunteers.
- Another program from the IRS is the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which provides free tax return preparation for qualified individuals.
Find Tax Help
Non-profit organizations, states, and the federal government offer help for seniors requiring tax assistance. Use the IRS’s TCE site/VITA site locator to find tax help near you. You’ll also be able to find local help through the Area Agencies on Aging, which connects seniors and their caregivers to local resources and organizations.
Your state’s bar association can also provide pro bono legal counsel if you need legal help related to tax problems. Many local tax preparation associations and CPAs also offer free tax help to older adults who are dealing with back taxes or IRS audits.
Debt expert and founder and managing director of Reichert Asset Management LLC, Brad Reichert, explains that seniors new to the U.S. who must file for taxes should consider finding assistance. “It’s important to seek tax-related help from a qualified, reputable service provider who is multilingual and can explain these complex rules in a potential U.S. tax filers’ first language to avoid any misunderstandings or misinterpretations on a tax return,” Reichert explains.