Tax season can be a challenge for many elders, and that challenge could be greater than ever this year as the COVID-19 pandemic restricts the availability of professional help in preparing their return.

LGBT elders in need of assistance can learn how to get the help they need at The Center for LGBTQ Health Equity’s upcoming virtual ElderPride Power Hour, scheduled for Thursday, February 11 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Courtney Bettle, AFC, Director of Financial Capability for the CASH Campaign of Maryland, will present the online session, and offered a preview of some of the tips she’ll share.

What are some common issues that elders face in preparing their taxes?

This year presents new challenges for filing taxes for everyone, but especially the elderly.  The COVID-19 pandemic makes gathering in person, especially for extended periods of time, challenging so it may be difficult for those who are used to visiting a tax preparer in-person. They’ll find their options are limited.  The elderly may have additional challenges accessing or using the technology that could make remote tax preparation a reliable option for them.  

What specific challenges might LGBT elders face at tax time?

LGBT elders and others are facing an increase in predatory financial scams as services shift online. Because of this we expect to see an increase in tax-related scams this year as well. People should be extra cautious with whom they provide their personal information and ensure they are a valid and reliable service provider.

How much more difficult could this tax season be, with in-person meetings less available or safe?

In order to comply with social distancing guidelines, many tax preparation services will need to reduce the number of appointments they take or move their operations to completely virtual formats.  We anticipate that getting an appointment with a tax professional will be more difficult than in previous years.  CASH Campaign of Maryland will offer free, high-quality tax preparation services for individuals and families who made $57,000 for less in 2020 via virtual or drop off appointments this year.  To schedule an appointment, call 410-234-8008 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

How can individuals get organized during the year to ensure that their tax preparation goes more smoothly?

First, check out our website (bmorefreetaxes.org) to review the list of tax documents people will need to file their taxes with us or on their own.  Print it out or jot down the documents that you’ll need on a separate sheet so you can check off the documents as you’ve gathered them.  Be sure to check your mail daily and open all envelopes to see if any tax documents have arrived.  Place those documents in a designated folder.  Be sure to keep any donation receipts you receive, too!  

CASH Campaign is hosting a weekly workshop online to help filers get ready for tax season!  You can sign up for this free workshop called “COVID & Your Taxes” at our website www.mdcashacademy.org/calendar.

What is one easy tip that can help LGBT elders maximize their return?

One of the easiest ways is to schedule a free tax preparation appointment with one of our certified tax preparers by calling 410-234-2008!  While it’s hard to give one piece of advice that applies to everyone, CASH Campaign connects individuals and families to high-quality, free financial planning services to get tax advice specific to their circumstances!  To talk with a Certified Financial Planner(R) about how to reduce your return, visit www.cashmd.org/financial-coaching.  

For more information about this upcoming ElderPride Power Hour, visit http://www.chasebrexton.org/PowerHourFeb2021.

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