Death and Taxes

Caregivers have enough to do without fretting over taxes. But that kind of worry comes with the territory when you care for a loved one with dementia. Like all things that require both math and record keeping, I hate it.

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I’ve always been a last minute filer. Since I have a writing business, I end up with a drawer full of receipts that must be categorized and summed. Only the threat of a deadline can persuade me to sit down and start sorting. My mother’s approach to taxes was exactly the opposite. Mom filed early every year and even paid for delivery confirmation of her tax returns.  Though Mom’s income and expenses did not require her to file an itemized return in recent years, things have been getting more complicated and now I have a second heap of paper on my desk.

Mom’s medical costs have increased and, as a result, she received Long Term Care benefits from an insurance policy. These reimbursements are reported to the IRS as income on a 1099 LTC form.  We also rented her old home to create an income stream that would help defray care costs as they rise. This means filing a rental income schedule and itemizing the cost of improving the property before renting it. Before you could say Uncle Sam, her economic details outnumbered mine.

Taxes add to the long list of items caregivers already oversee. If your loved one’s IRS return is pretty simple, you can reduce your burden slightly by using free software services offered via the IRS Free File site. If your situation is getting more complex, like ours, you can do most of what’s needed with a program like Turbo Tax, which can be purchased at many retail outlets or online.

If you are spending the first lovely days of spring staring at a mess of spreadsheets and invoices, I feel your pain. The one consolation is that this headache comes with a reliable antidote: File it!

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