Tax time is stressful for everyone. It involves organizing receipts and tax documents, filling out confusing forms, working with accountants, and meeting that fast-approaching April 17, 2018 deadline. For people with age-related vision problems, there is often added anxiety around tax time since most receipts and paperwork come in small print that is difficult, if not impossible, for people with eye conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration to read. To help seniors experiencing vision loss get organized and find helpful resources and tips, here is a Tax Guide dedicated to getting yourself organized for this annual event and making the filing process easier. Getting Ready to File? Help With Filing? Working with an Accountant? Ready to File?
Getting Ready to File? It’s Time to Get Organized!
- Invest in a magnification device available from a doctor specializing in low vision rehabilitation, or electronic magnification devices called video magnifiers, can help you read small print that is typically found on receipts and IRS forms.
- If you itemize your income tax deductions, the first thing you need to do is organize your receipts from the year. Use hanging folders or pocket folders to organize receipts and other tax documents and mark all file folders with bold, large print labels.
- Ask your bank to send you statements in large print. Banks are required to make your statements available in accessible formats such as large print, or braille, if requested.
Need Help With Filing? Follow These Tips
- Visit the IRS website to download tax forms and instructions in the format that’s easiest for you to read—whether it’s large print, braille, or ASCII text and HTML versions for assistive technology users.
- Use a magnification device to help you read your W-2 and other preprinted tax forms.
- If you need help preparing basic tax forms, the AARP Tax-Aide program offers free tax preparation help from February 1 through April 15th. Find a Tax-Aide location near you .
- You can also get free help with your tax return at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) site near you. For more information, call 1-800-906-9887 (VITA) or 1-888-227-7669 (TCE).
- If you are legally blind, indicate that on your tax form since you may qualify for a higher deduction. Find information about itemized deductions for medical expenses.
- Social Security is offering resources that may help you as you prepare and file your taxes, including where you can find free help and advice.
- Check out the American Council of the Blind information page on filing taxes.
- Though online tax preparation and e-filing has become extremely popular, many are not accessible to people who use screen readers or screen magnifiers. Before you start using an online tax program, make sure you can easily navigate it using your assistive technology. More information about accessible tax programs can be found through the AccessWorld review of IRS Free File.
Working With an Accountant? Follow These Tips.
- It is important to use a reputable accountant because you are ultimately responsible for the return filed under your name. Word-of-mouth is a great way to find a good, credible accountant in your area. The IRS website also offers good tips on finding a credible tax preparer.
- Once you’re working with an accountant you trust, ask him or her to prepare your taxes using large print forms, or another accessible format, so that you can review your return before you sign it.
- Make sure to tell your accountant if you are legally blind since you may qualify for a higher deduction.
- Once your accountant has completed your return, ask him or her to read through the form with you to allow you to ask questions on figures you do not understand.
Ready to File? Follow These Tips.
- When it’s time to sign your return, use a signature guide to help you ensure you’ve signed in the appropriate place.
- If you owe money in taxes, and need to write a check, ask your bank to order bold-line large-print checks available from Deluxe (1-800-328-0304).
- If you are expecting a federal refund, you can check its status through the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on the IRS website. According to the IRS, this online tool is accessible to taxpayers who use the JAWS screen reader alone or when used with a Braille display which is compatible with different JAWS modes.
- If you do not have internet access, you can check the status of your refund by calling the IRS TeleTax System at 800-829-4477 or the IRS Refund Hotline at 800-829-1954. When calling, you must provide a social security number for you or your spouse, your filing status, and the exact refund amount shown on your return.