Legitimate Tax Write-Offs for Elder Care and Caregiving

    It was almost a year ago today that Aging matters talked about tax help for senior care and family caregiving. I'm circling back in case our readers missed or forgot the tips on health care tax write-offs.

    If you're involved in helping a family member with caregiving tasks, you might qualify for tax write-offs. Don't shy away from them because you fear an IRS audit; experts say less that 1 percent of the public ever experiences a review.

    Look at the claims to see if you qualify for a deduction.

    • Dependents - Are you paying more than 50 percent of a loved one's living costs like food, medical care, housing, transportation, types of equipment, and utility bills? Is their 2016 gross income (excluding Social Security) below $4,050? Then you can claim the loved one as a dependent on your tax return. It will reduce your taxable income by $4,050, even if the dependent does not live with you as long as his income falls below $4,050 and you provide more than half his financial support. But if your loved does live with you, then you can deduct a percentage of your mortgage, utilities and other expenses contributed to his care and support.
    • Shared financial aid - Do you share financial assistance with another family member? If so, you may be eligible for the multiple support declaration. If you provide more than half a loved one's financial assistance, you can claim the dependent. And if a sibling provides less than half the financial support, but their combined compensation exceeds half the loved one's support, the sibling giving more than 10 percent can claim the loved one a dependent. But only one person (caregiver) can apply for the tax break in a particular year. Each person can rotate the tax break. Complete and file IRS Form 2120.
    • Medical claims - You can get a tax break for paying some of the medical expenses. The IRS allows taxpayers to deduct money spent on a person's health care and qualified long-term care services. To claim the deduction, you must provide more than half a loved one's support, but they do not have to meet the $4,050 limit income test. And expenses limit to medical, dental and long-term care that exceed 10 percent (or 7.5 percent if you're 65 by Dec. 31, 2016) of your adjusted gross income.
    • Home care credit - Do you pay for in-home care or adult day care for a family member? You may qualify for the Dependent Care Tax Credit. The credit can cut up to $1,050 off your tax bill for the year. Fill out Form 2441 and file with your return.

    Other tax deductions

    • If you met with an estate planning attorney in 2016, some legal fees are allowable as a deduction. We believe that close to twenty percent of the costs paid to the firm is legal tax advice.
    • Track and log expenses: Mileage, parking, tolls, and lodging for your dependent's medical needs, home adjustments and modifications, medical equipment, family caregiver financial support in some situations, long-term care services, co-pays, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs not covered by health insurance.

    Carol Marak, aging advocate, and editor at Seniorcare.com. She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

    Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

    Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

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