Tax season is overwhelming for many seniors. Many services are available to assist seniors with both federal and state income taxes. Supermarkets and malls have preparers from a variety of firms. Senior centers often host tax preparation days with professionals available to assist with preparation. And, this year the IRS is providing a new service for preparing and filing federal returns, called “Free File”, in conjunction with approximately 20 tax preparation software companies. The tax software providers must meet specific government standards and must qualify with the required security systems. Information transferred over the Internet must be appropriately encrypted so it is protected.
Two programs are available. Taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $57,000 or less can use the software programs without charge by linking to www.irs.gov/freefile. Taxpayers of any income level may use “Free File Fillable Forms” from www.irs.gov. Both programs permit E-filing at no charge. The Fillable Forms system requires a basic understanding of IRS tax forms and includes some basic calculations and links to IRS publications.
Frank Vidin, CSA, CFP, has more than 30 years experience in financial and nonprofit services. He teaches the financial and government sections of the CSA training program.