Things to Remember at Tax Time
Tax day, which is April 18th in 2017, is approaching and it is time to begin crossing T's and
dotting I's in preparation for paying taxes. As tax time draws near, you want to make sure you
file all the proper forms and take all deductions you're entitled to. Following are some things to
keep in mind as you prepare your tax form.
Gifts. Did you give away any money this year? The gift tax can be very confusing. If you
gave away more than $14,000 in 2016, you will have to file a Form 709, the gift tax
return. This does not necessarily mean you will owe taxes on the money, however.
Medical Expenses. Many types of medical expenses are tax deductible, from hospital stays
to hearing aids. To claim the deduction, your medical expenses have to be more than 10
percent of your adjusted gross income. (For taxpayers 65 and older, this threshold will be
7.5 percent through 2016.) This includes all out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions
(including deductibles and co-pays) and Medicare Part B and Part C and Part D
premiums. (Medicare Part B premiums are usually deducted out of your Social Security
benefits, so be sure to check your 1099 for the amount.) You can only deduct medical
expenses you paid during the year, regardless of when the services were provided, and
medical expenses are not deductible if they are reimbursable by insurance.
Parental Deduction. If you are caring for your mother or father, you may be able to claim
your parent as a dependent on your income taxes. This would allow you to get an
exemption $4,050 (in 2016) for him or her.
Long-Term Care Insurance Premiums. Premiums for "qualified" long-term care policies
are treated as an unreimbursed medical expense. Long-term care insurance premiums are
deductible for the taxpayer, his or her spouse and other dependents.
Social Security Benefits. Although Social Security benefits are generally not taxable, people
with substantial income in addition to their Social Security may pay taxes on their
benefits. If you file a federal tax return as an individual and your "combined income,"
including one half of your Social Security benefits and nontaxable interest income is
between $25,000 and $34,000, 50 percent of your Social Security benefits will be
considered taxable. If your combined income is above $34,000, 85 percent of your Social
Security benefits is subject to income tax.
Home Sale Exclusion. Married couples can exclude from income up to $500,000 in profit on
the sale of a home ($250,000 for single individuals). If a surviving spouse sells the home,
he or she can still claim the exclusion as long as the house was sold no more than two
years after the spouse's death.
Elderly or Disabled Tax Credit. Some low-income elderly or disabled individuals are
entitled to a special tax credit. To be eligible, you must meet income limits. For more
information, click here.
The IRS's Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program offers free tax help to taxpayers who
are 60 and older. For more information, click here. The IRS also publishes a Tax Guide For