It’s officially that time of year:  tax season.  With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season officially winding down, people everywhere are reluctantly taking down those jolly decorations and preparing for what’s coming up next.  But how ready are you and your loved one for this upcoming tax time?  As an individual, or perhaps as caregivers, friends, and family members of residents currently residing in an assisted living or memory care, there are a few important things to keep in mind during this 2017 tax season.

Being prepared to detect fraud is a necessity the IRS vigilantly encourages all seniors and their caregivers to be alert for and capable of detecting.  Tax scams are acted upon in a manner that is only achievable by crimes of opportunity, so knowing how to detect a scam is the first step in stopping them in their tracks.  According to the IRS during a 2016 tax season review, the common element in a majority of tax scams directed toward seniors included a phone calls inquiring about fake charity donations, political endorsements, or outstanding monthly credit payments.

The tax scam typically works like this: A taxpayer receives a call from what appears to be an IRS phone number. The caller then claims that the taxpayer owes taxes, which they can pay by mailing a prepaid debit card or sending money by wire transfer. If the taxpayer resists, the scammer often threatens their mark with a criminal violation, immediate arrest, the revocation of a business or driver’s license or deportation.  Like most scams, the easiest way to avoid becoming a victim is to identify the scam early and end the call immediately.  Since the IRS almost always contacts taxpayers by mail, anyone calling “from the IRS” is probably trying to run a con.  Additionally, the IRS does not accept payments by credit card, wire transfer, or prepaid debit cards.  

Knowing these little details can save you or a loved one from a tax season catastrophe.  By educating yourself, you can protect both yourself and your hard earned money.  It is never too late to look further into these steps and access resources so you are prepared to recognize a scam.

As scary as the phrase “tax season” can sound, there are also positives that exist!  One of the great advantages seniors have while residing in Assisted Living is that 100% of the resident fees can be deducted as a medical expense on their income tax return.  This is in accordance with the Internal Revenue Service Publication 502 (2015) page 11.  The tax law referenced includes various complex rules and definitions; therefore each person should consult their tax advisor regarding the proper applications of these laws to their individual situation.

Ask your Cedarhurst Business Office Manager to prepare a statement showing how much you have paid during the 2016 tax year.