The deadline for filing 2016 taxes is Tuesday, April 18th, 2017 for Massachusetts residents. MOD usually receives calls this time of year from individuals requesting information on obtaining assistance with preparing their taxes and also on deductions and credits that apply to persons with disabilities. This post aims to provide an overview of various supports and benefits available when it comes to filing income taxes.
Assistance with Filing Taxes
There are various free or low-cost services available to help individuals in MA with preparing and filing their taxes.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) provides tax help at no cost to individuals who make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, seniors and limited English speaking taxpayers. IRS-certified volunteers provide free fundamental income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.
Tax Counseling for the Elderly Programs (TCE) provide free services for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older. The program specializes in questions regarding pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors.
Find a VITA or TCE programs near you by using the IRS VITA Locator Tool (external link).
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the Internal Revenue Service that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayer rights. TAS ensures that taxpayers are treated fairly and understand their rights under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. TAs provides free service to help taxpayers resolve problems with the IRS. You can reach TAS at 1-877-777-4778 or 617-316-2690 for the Boston office.
Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) assist individuals whose income is below a certain level to resolve tax problems including audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes. To find a clinic near you, visit IRS- Taxpayer Advocate (external link) or see the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List (external link).
Income Tax Credits and Deductions for Individuals with Disabilities
Various tax credits and other benefits on tax returns may be available to taxpayers who have a disability. These include:
- A potentially higher standard deduction for legally blind taxpayers on federal tax.
- An Additional Exemption for the Blind against earned income for state income tax under Massachusetts General Law (external link).
- Exclusion of certain disability-related payments, Veterans Administration disability benefits, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from gross income.
- Ability to claim “Impairment-Related Work Expenses,” i.e. business expenses which are necessary for an individual with a disability to work.
- The Credit for the Elderly or Disabled for certain taxpayers who are 65 and older as well as to certain disabled taxpayers who are younger than 65 and are retired on permanent and total disability.
- Deduction of medical and dental expenses for taxpayers who itemize deductions.
- Earned Income Tax Credit EITC for disabled taxpayers as well as to the parents of a child with a disability.
- Child or Dependent Care Credit for certain taxpayers who pay someone to care for their dependent or spouse so they can work or look for work.
Find more information on these credits and deductions on the IRS page Tax Benefits for Disabled Taxpayers (external link).
The following publications provide more tax information that is relevant to taxpayers with disabilities:
The above focuses on income tax only. There are other types of disability-related tax exemptions and credits which we will cover in a future post.
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The Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD) is pleased to announce the opening of the Municipal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Improvement Grant Program application and selection process. These grants will support capital improvements specifically dedicated to improving programmatic access for persons with disabilities.
Eligible applicants include any Massachusetts city, town, special purpose district and/or regional governmental organization. Grants of up to $250,000 will be awarded to successful applicants to remove barriers and to create and improve accessible features in cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth. Examples of eligible projects include the addition of features such as ramps, elevators, power lifts, signage, communication access devices, and curb cuts.
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Attention Businesses and employers: Did you know there are tax credits and deductions available to employ persons with disabilities and to make accessibility improvements?
The vast majority of businesses and employers have distinct obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure equal employment opportunities and to remove accessibility barriers for persons with disabilities. Not only are Americans with disabilities contributing members of the workforce and valuable customers, but there are also incentives in the form of tax credits and deductions for meeting ADA obligations.