Tax Return time is upon us and reminders on this are coming up almost every day. Although the specifics depend on which country you live in, there is often merit in looking over lists to see whether it sparks ideas on tax deductions that may be overlooked.
One US article that offered Tax Tips for Senior Citizens pointed out that if anyone needs a little extra tax know how, itâ€™s retired senior citizens, more and more of whom are just trying to make ends meet. You should not forgo completing your tax returns since there may be benefits to which you are entitled.
Another US post today mentions 25 Easily Overlooked Tax Deductions. As is pointed out, if you are one of the millions of Americans who throws all their receipts, credit card and bank statements into a box, you are likely to overlook hundreds of dollars in tax deductions when preparing your tax filings. Here is their list of deductible expenses:
- Medical transportation expenses including tolls, parking, and mileage for trips to doctorâ€™s, health facilities, laboratories.
- Prescribed medical aids such as crutches, canes, and orthopedic shoes
- Hearing aids, eye glasses, and contact lenses
- The cost of alcohol and drug abuse programs, and certain smoking-cessation treatments
- Education expenses you paid to maintain or improve job skills (including professional books)
- Professional journals, magazines, and newspapers that are job-related
- Cost of safe deposit box used for to store investments or investment information
- Required uniforms and work clothes not suitable for street wear
- Union dues.
- Job-seeking expenses within your present field of employment – from printing resumes to phone charges.
- Dues to professional organizations and business gifts up to $25 per customer or client
- Cellular phones required for business
- If you are self-employed, half of the self-employment tax paid
- Self-employed health insurance premiums and long-term care insurance premiums up to the annual limits.
- Fees for tax preparation or advice, including software like TurboTax if you meet limits
- Services of a housekeeper, maid, or cook needed to run your home for the benefit of a qualifying dependent while you work
- Penalties paid on early withdrawal of savings
- State income taxes owed from a prior year and paid in the tax year-with your last return
- Mileage incurred in performing charitable activities
- Gambling losses to the extent of your gambling winnings – but be prepared to document this
- The cost of employment agency fees or commissions in certain cases
- Home office expenses, if your home is your primary place of business
- Cash and non-cash contributions to qualified charities
- Reservist and National Guard overnight travel expenses
- Worthless stock or securities – but you must follow the prescribed rules.
The Internal Revenue Service of the United States Department of the Treasury has a useful tutorial giving Tips for Seniors in Preparing their Taxes. As it explains:
Current research indicates that individuals are likely to make errors when preparing their tax returns. The tax tips included were developed to help you avoid some of the common errors dealing with the standard deduction for seniors, the taxable amount of Social Security benefits, and the Credit for the Elderly and Disabled. In addition, you’ll find links to helpful publications as well as information on how to obtain free tax assistance.
One Canadian website, TaxTips.ca, provides Canadian Tax and Financial Information with links to a large number of resources on Income tax information items such as:
- Pension splitting
- Attendant care expenses
- Attendant care expenses paid to a retirement home
- Disability supports deduction
- Amount for an eligible dependent – A single person can claim a tax credit for a dependent child, grandchild, sibling, parent or grandparent.
- Caregiver amount tax credit may be available if (dependent or non-dependent) parent or grandparent (over 65) lives with you, or if a dependent relative lives with you.
- See non-refundable tax credits on the Filing Your Return page for tax credits available for seniors.
- Do you qualify for the Service for Seniors Telefile to file your tax return?
- Access your Old Age Security (OAS) and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) tax slips online.
- You might save tax by sharing your CPP retirement pension with your spouse.
The Canada Revenue Agency of the Canadian Government also has a website offering Tax and benefit information for seniors:
As a senior, you may be entitled to claim numerous credits and benefits on your income tax and benefit return. You have specific information needs when it comes to completing your return, and various resources are available to help you file your return accurately and on time. Here you will find much of the information you need to make filing easy, and to get all the tax savings and benefits to which you are entitled.
If you wish to complete your tax returns yourself or are looking for assistance in getting someone else to assist you, then the above links will give you the necessary information. Remember too that the government offers a free IRS efile service that will save you a few more dollars in addition to the deductions listed above. Since you may possibly be receiving a check for tax credits owed to you, it is better to complete your tax return earlier rather than later. We hope you appreciate this additional reminder.
If there are other sources of assistance for seniors on their tax returns that you have found useful, then why not add these in the comments. You may make someone extremely grateful.
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