Sunday, February 6, 2011



As most of you know, I volunteer to do tax returns every year about this time. Yesterday was my first day for the season. One of the taxpayers that came in had a way about him that I couldn't figure out.

During the interview process, I found that he was paying for his parents' entire mortgage payment and, taking care of them. His mother had some health issues which limited her mobility. His father was also frail and wasn't able to lift her when she needed help. He also bought their medicine and paid for their hospital bills.

Yet, he was filing a simple return as a single person. I asked if his parents filed a return and he indicated in the affirmative. That means that the taxpayer had to file as a single person rather than as "Head of Household" with much more favorable rates. I suggested that he bring his receipts in for the medicine, the hospital bills and the mortgage statement (he indicated that he was on the mortgage with his parents) and his parents' social security numbers and dates of birth. Perhaps if his parents don't need to file a tax return, he would be able to claim them as dependents and gain "Head of Household" status.

He further would obtain tax credits like earned income credit and dependent care credits. I explained all of this to him and suggested that he come back after gathering these records. He was abrupt and said that he didn't have any of the paperwork. So he was O.K. with filing as a single person even though he could get back thousands of dollars by filing as a "Head of household". He wasn't upset with me (I don't think) but he appeared to be distraught. This happens when a person is stressed out.

He prepares everything for his parents every morning, including meals and whatever they need and then goes to work. When he comes home, he needs to clean them up, prepare their meal and do the household chores. He has no respite other than going to work every day. There are many in our society who do these things, quietly and without fanfare.

Since he insisted that we prepare his tax return as a single person, I did so. He didn't want to come back and felt that getting the documentation was a hassle. I gave him a list of things he needs to keep as records and proof of support he gives his parents so that he may be able to files his tax returns properly next year. The thousands he would get as a refund could be used to help pay for medication and perhaps hire someone to come in to give him a day off from caregiving.

I went to the grocery store early this morning to buy refreshments for the work crew who would be finishing up the installation of my new kitchen. The taxpayer was behind me at the checkout counter and told the cashier that I do tax returns as a volunteer. He appeared to be less stressed and let me know he truly appreciated the guidance I gave him.

Made my day.

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