It’s That Time – Tax Time – Again!

Well, the first bit of good news is this snow is good enough to cross country ski. The second bit is I remember how! I got my first, 45 minute session in this afternoon. Go team!

Now the bad news is, if we are having this weather now, Spring cannot be far away. Spring in the States means tax time. Groan!

The last two years we did pages on taxes. This year I want to use a TurboTax page I found as a reference and cue you in to some of the rules and regulations not to mention the changes we can expect. [Lin/Linda: the 2017 tax page was Tax Time.]

The IRS defines blind as 20 degrees or less field of vision or 20/200 or less acuity in the better eye with best correction. If you qualify as blind by that definition, congratulation, you get deductions! If you are blind by that definition and also 65 or older, yippee, you hit the daily double! According to the IRS people over 65 who file singly get to deduct an extra $1550. Those filing jointly deduct $1250 apiece. For the blind, the deduction is $1550 if filing singly or $1250 if filing jointly. If you are both blind you and your spouse get to deduct $2500.

We went over medical deductions last time…and maybe even the time before. The rule is basically anything that you spend to prevent, diagnose or treat illness is a medical deduction. You might want to ask your accountant about eye vitamins. You would probably need a doctor’s note. That is what I am told to get every time I suggest my gym membership should be a deduction! Go ahead. Won’t hurt to try.

There is something called impairment-related work expenses. This would be something like the bill to fix my CCTV. We can claim those.

All this will probably (or not!) change next year with the tax reform proposals they may (or may not) pass. Make sure you can get the information or can at least latch on to someone else who has it. That will be something to fuss over next year. Right now, don’t worry about it.

Also found a 2015 article from the American Federation of the Blind (AFB). This article (Tax Guide) makes some suggestions for doing your taxes on your own. Their first step is to get organized, something that has always been my nemesis. AFB suggests hanging files with large, bold labels. I would suggest color coding as well.

AFB also suggested getting all statements in large print and using a magnifier like a CCTV. Not sure how some of you could get a hand on one of those. I know there is one available to the public in our town library.

Only a page and a half into the article, the AFB page takes a pretty abrupt turn into how to ask for help doing your taxes. (Now they are making sense!) They suggest AARP and the American Council of the Blind. AFB warns against using online tax preparation programs because of the navigation problems that can occur when you are using a magnify program.

So, personally, I would say we are back to having a competent accountant. If you cannot afford an accountant, the government endorses Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) as well as Tax Counseling for the Elderly( TCE) as organizations that can be of help.

Good luck.

Next: The Heat is On!

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