Caregiver Question | 03/07/24

I can’t afford an accountant but need help with my father’s taxes.

DEAR CARALLEL: Hoping you can help me out. Me and my brother have been helping our dad more and more over the last couple of years. It’s hard but we got a pretty good thing going.

I do the day to day because I’m closer and my brother handles all the paperwork and money stuff including the taxes. 

Problem is my brother won’t be able to do them this year because he’s got his own fight going on. And I’m not good at this stuff. If money wasn’t a thing I’d just hire somebody to do it but that’s not an option. 

Where can I go for help? I’ll be grateful for any answers you can provide. –Erik in Tupelo, MS

DEAR ERIK: I’m glad you sent the email. Asking for help is one of the best things we can do as caregivers–and that’s what you did by sending in this question. Nice job! 

You aren’t alone in needing some guidance, taxes can be tricky for everyone.  I think I’ve got some information that could be helpful. The IRS has two programs that prepare tax returns for free for qualifying individuals. And I’ll describe them here… 

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program 

It’s been in existence for more than 50 years and is staffed by IRS certified volunteers who are often retired tax professionals. According to the IRS website: 

VITA locations offer free tax help to people who need assistance in preparing their own returns, including: 

  • People who generally make 64,000 or less per year
  • People with disabilities 
  • Limited English-speaking taxpayers 

So if your father can be involved in the process with your help, this could be a good option. 

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program 

This program offers free tax help for people who are 60 years old or older, with a focus on questions surrounding pensions and other considerations that are common among retirees. 

Like VITA, TCE is managed by the IRS and staffed with IRS certified volunteers with the tax expertise that you seek. 

What I appreciate most about these programs (other than them being free!) is that they’re managed by the IRS. If we’re getting help with something as sensitive as our taxes, we want a trustworthy helper so I take comfort in knowing the IRS is behind them. 

Lastly, you can check out this document from the IRS to see more detail about services provided by the VITA and TCE programs. 

Other Details Important to Know 

You can find a location near you on the IRS’ locator tool here: https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/

It’s simple to use, all you need to do is enter your zip code. And based on the search I just did, it looks like there’s at least one location in Tupelo. 

Or if you’d prefer to speak with someone over the phone, you can call 1-800-906-9887.  

Have a look at the locator or give the IRS a call to find a convenient location near you, understand what services are offered at each location (they can vary a bit depending on the expertise of available staff), and to make an appointment. 

Oh and before I go, the IRS does a nice job of detailing what you’ll need to bring to your appointment here

You’ve got this, Erik!

–Jennifer, Carallel Care Advocate

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