Six tax-time tips for seniors

SHERIDAN — April 15—this year’s tax deadline—is right around the corner. How can you and the older adults in your life save as much as possible? Here are 6 tips to consider from the National Council on Aging. Details are available at the NCOA website at www.ncoa.org.

1. See if there’s a tax relief program that can help you.

You may be able to lower your annual property tax bills or get a tax credit from local programs such as abatement, circuit breaker, or work-off programs. On average, you can save $500-$2,000 annually with this assistance if you qualify.

The NCOS’s free online Benefits CheckUp® service can help you find available programs—and even apply online.

2. Get free tax assistance from the IRS.

The IRS’ Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program offers free tax help for people aged 60+, with a focus on pensions and retirement issues.

The IRS also offers self-assistance service at select locations.

If you have a simple tax return and need a little help or don’t have access to a computer, you can visit one of the sites to have an IRS-certified volunteer guide you through the process.
3. Protect yourself from tax scams.

Scammers commonly target older adults at tax time. A recent property tax scam in San Diego saw fraudsters sending personalized letters to homeowners offering a paid reassessment to help reduce taxes.
4. Explore how to use and protect your home equity.

If you’re a house is likely your biggest financial asset. You may be able to tap into your equity to pay for your expenses. NCOA’s Home Equity Advisor website can help you explore your financial situation and possible solutions. Take a free Quick Check to get personalized tips and resources.

5. Review this year’s changes in the tax law.

The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement offers a 2012 Tax Update with changes in the tax law that might affect what you have to pay.

6. Save your tax refund.
For individuals with limited incomes, tax time is often one of the only opportunities to save. If you receive a large refund, consider putting the money into a savings account or into U.S. Savings Bonds.
New tax forms now include purchase options for U.S. Savings Bonds.

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Tom Cotton

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