Tax Talk for Those Who are Elderly Care Givers

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Reuters had an interesting, albeit sad, article on the tax woes many, including senior citizens, are finding themselves in right now, due to the economic recession we are in. Some of the primary points in the article include:

  • There are many who are self-employed who are not paying quarterly estimated taxes due to less income
  • Others are withdrawing funds from 401s and IRAs too early, not realizing the nasty taxes and penalties this can generate
  • Those who usually get tax refunds have lowered the amount being held out, resulting in the unexpected result of no refund or maybe even taxes due
  • Many people are not telling anyone about tax problems because they are embarrassed, which means no help or support in dealing with the situation. I suspect this is especially common among senior citizens
  • All of these types of problems (and more) are impacting rich and poor, old and young

As those who are elderly care givers, it may fall to us to help our aging parents and other relatives deal with these types of situations. I learned a long time ago that communication with the IRS is one of your best defenses. Despite the IRS’ tough reputation, every IRS employee I’ve ever dealt with has been kind, considerate, and very helpful. I’m sure there are exceptions to that, just as there are in any workplace. How you approach them can make a big difference as well. While it’s not necessarily feasible to bake them cookies or cakes, practicing the Golden Rule with them (do to them as you would have them do to you) works wonderfully overall.

Many problems can be solved through the proper paperwork, and if there isn’t enough money to pay a tax bill off, they are generally very reasonable about setting up monthly payments. It’s really important to deal with this ahead of time rather than letting fear of dealing with it create a worse problem.

Depending on your family’s situation, it might be wise to discuss the current economic situation along with taxes, retirement, etc., with your elderly relatives. If you sense some reticence, gentle probing might be a good idea. Let them know it can and is happening to anyone.

Good communication is vital and knowing we are not alone is always encouraging.

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