HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Tax day is just two weeks away. It’s a good idea, especially this year, to reach out to our older friends and family to make sure they’re ready.
“It is probably the most complicated tax season ever and that’s what older Americans really need to know,” said Margi Mannix, digital editor in chief for AARP.
That’s why it’s so important to double and triple check those forms.
Mannix says they’re getting a lot of tax questions this year.
“The biggest question we get, which is a perennial, is ‘can I file for free?’ and yes, there are many many programs for low-income Americans including our own AARP foundation taxing program. That has helped millions and millions of Americans throughout the years.”
Some may even be owed extra cash.
“They also should keep in mind especially if they do their taxes by hand as some older Americans still do, there is a relatively new tax form called the 1040-SR which is very very helpful to older Americans and it includes, along with the regular 1040 form, a worksheet that can help you figure out if you are due money through the stimulus payment program.”
The pandemic was tough for all of us. Many older Americans lost their jobs and are now on unemployment for the first time ever.
So it’s important they know those benefits are taxable.
Of course, the pandemic cost more than just jobs.
“You might be struggling financially, you might be filing your taxes for the first time because you’re a new widow or widower so there’s a lot of things that are making this so complex and people might need help from a family member or a trusted friend.”
But what types of scams and fraud should you be looking out for?
“One of the perennial ones that we’ve heard a lot about happens almost every year. People including my own mother, recently get calls from people pretending they’re the IRS and they say you owe back taxes and they threaten you with arrest or they’ll haul you off to jail.I’m like ‘mom no no no, that’s nonsense.’ If for any reason you owe back taxes, the IRS will send you a letter, they are not going to threaten you, they’re not going to arrest you.”
A big scam right now is someone using your name to apply for your benefits.
“This is identity theft pure and simple. These older Americans are shocked, they don’t find this out until they get that form,1099-G, that says you’ve applied for these unemployment benefits.”
So it’s a good idea to check on your older family and friends to make sure they’re not being taken advantage of.
“These scamsters, they’re always one step ahead of us and everyone’s just got to be careful.”
Also important to stress to seniors to screen their calls and never give out their personal financial information over the phone – especially their social security number.For more tax information including places to go for free tax help, click here.