Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
There are new tax benefits for many küpuna 65 and older filing their 2020 tax returns — a bigger standard deduction and a new tax form especially for küpuna: Form 1040-SR (U.S. Tax Form for Seniors). Information and the actual form can be found on the IRS website at irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-1040-sr.
The new 1040-SR is designed to make it simpler for küpuna who take the standard deduction when filing their taxes. It has bigger type for those who fill out their taxes by hand and a chart at the bottom with information on the higher standard deduction for those 65 and older: $14,050 for singles; add to that $1,650 higher than for those born before Jan. 2, 1956.
Married taxpayers filing jointly get an extra $1,300 deduction for each spouse 65 and older above the standard deduction of $24,800 available for younger married taxpayers. There’s an additional deduction if you are blind and 65+.
In addition to the higher deduction for küpuna 65 and older, there’s a new line on the tax form. Line 30 allows those who did not receive their full coronavirus stimulus payment to get a tax credit. This is only for those who did not get a stimulus check or those whose stimulus payment was not the full amount they were entitled to.
The other good news is that stimulus checks are not taxable income. But if you lost your job during the pandemic, you will have to pay taxes on your unemployment benefits.
The AARP Foundation Tax Aide program is offering free tax services for küpuna. But it will not be the same as it was before the pandemic. As of this writing, there are no program sites on O‘ahu, Maui and in Hilo. However, some O‘ahu sites may open in March. Taxes will be done by appointment only. No one will be permitted to stand in line to get their taxes done.
The good news is that AARP is offering expanded and safer online tax help. You can set up an appointment with a Tax Aide volunteer to prepare your taxes online or you can have a certified counselor help you prepare your own taxes with free software. Go to aarp.org/taxaide or taxaide.aarpfoundation.org to fill out a request form. You can also email the AARP Foundation Tax Aide at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-888-AARPNOW (1-888-227-7669) if you have trouble completing the form or have questions. Contact AARP through these methods, someone will get in touch with you.
The taxaide.aarpfoundation.org website also has a zip-code locator to find the nearest Tax Aide site to you and the phone number to call for an appointment or visit taxaidehi.org for a listing of sites and appointment phone numbers. Each site will have differing levels of service and different phone numbers for appointments. Some sites will have a low-contact, drop-off system where you make an appointment to drop off your tax documents and another appointment to pick up and sign your taxes.
In addition to the AARP Foundation Tax Aide, free tax preparation for low- and moderate-income families is also available at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance by going to hawaiitaxhelp.org and at Goodwill Hawaii by going to goodwillhawaii.org/free-tax-preparation-services/ or by calling (808) 836-0313. Appointments are required for VITA assistance and strongly suggested at Goodwill Hawaii locations.
Craig Gima is communications director at AARP Hawai‘i. He is an award-winning multimedia communicator with more than 30 years of experience. A Honolulu native, Gima spent nearly 19 years at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in a variety of reporting, editing and online roles before joining AARP in 2016. Gima graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California.