Tax Tips for Seniors and Caregivers

If you haven't filed your 2013 state and federal income taxes yet, the April 15 deadline is fast approaching. You'll need to gather your paperwork and file online yourself. Or you'll need to schedule an appointment with an accountant or tax preparer to help you meet the deadline. There is the option to file an extension, but it only prolongs the pain of tax season. If you can get your paperwork together, you're better off filing by the April 15 deadline.

For seniors and caregivers, tax season is a particularly interesting time, often marked by the need for tax break tips. One of the primary reasons for that is the sudden rise in tax-related scams that circulate when crooks know there's a way to make a fast buck. These scammers cost seniors an estimated $3 billion a year, according to the Internal Revenue Service, and you don't want to be their next victim.

Here's how to spot a tax season scammer:

  • Be suspicious if someone offers to help you get a much larger tax refund than you normally would.
  • If someone does offer to help you file your taxes, find out what their credentials are or if they hold a license like an attorney, certified public accountant, or licensed agent qualified to provide tax advice.
  • Verify their identity and qualifications to help you before you provide any personal information like your Social Security number, or bank account information.
  • Trust your instincts. If something seems odd, you're probably right.
  • If you're still looking for help filing your taxes, ask family and friends for a qualified referral for someone they've worked with in the past to file their taxes.
  • And check with your local library for tax help. Many libraries host free tax assistance workshops to help people file their taxes.

If you're going to be sifting through your paperwork before a meeting with a tax advisor, it's going to take some time. So you're going to need a little nourishment along the way. Check out the many meals available at and give yourself a quick fix of something healthy and tasty. And just in case you forgot, the deadline to file your taxes is about a month away.