Mesothelioma Patients and Caregivers Can Avoid Tax Headaches

Tax Form

People with serious illnesses and their caregivers are usually experts at coping. Still, we often forget to ask for help with some things. For me, taxes were one of those things.

When I was younger, I always prepared and filed my returns early. When I got married, my husband warned me that we should hire an accountant before our taxes got more complicated. But I insisted on doing them myself.

I had egg on my face when my parents got sick and I tried to do taxes for two households. I fell into a habit of focusing on the many things that required my immediate attention and putting off the taxes. One year, I had to file three sets of return – for me, my dad, and my mom’s estate. I finally admitted that I needed an accountant’s help.

Tips for Reducing Tax Season Anxiety

These tips can help you avoid Tax Day stress:

1. Get Help Early

Consult a tax professional. DIY tax may help, but don’t underestimate your role. Tax laws constantly change, so you must often learn something new to navigate the software effectively. That’s especially true when there are complex medical and caregiving issues. Consider whether you really have time to manage taxes AND your illness?

Concerned about tax preparer fees? You may have options. The IRS publishes information on free assistance for qualified taxpayers. Contact your state or local tax office and community groups for additional options, including services for veteran, disabled and elderly taxpayers.

2. Caregivers, Remember Your Taxes

If you’re a caregiver, also consider getting help with your own taxes. Avoid getting overwhelmed.

3. Learn More About Filing Late

If you get an extension, remember you can still incur penalties if you don’t pay by April 17, 2012. Also remember different deadlines may apply to that your state and local taxes. Check the dates.

The IRS has a created a series of YouTube videos offering last minute help on topics including extensions. If you can’t pay your taxes, the IRS also offers various payment options. These include the Fresh Start Program which helps eligible taxpayers avoid late penalties.

4. Start 2012 Records Now

My parents kept track of expenses. But I couldn’t find complete records for everything after my mom passed and my dad got sick. So they missed out on some deductions. Meanwhile, I was so busy with caregiving duties that I forfeited many of my own Flexible Spending Account dollars.

Don’t delay keeping legible records. Include expenses like doctor visits, prescriptions and travel expenses. Also, tally FSA expenses at least once a month. Use the funds this year and claim reimbursement before the deadline. Otherwise, you’ll waste that money.

5. Talk to Professionals About Your Legal Claim

If you’ve filed a litigation or trust claim for asbestos injuries, ask your attorney about any tax consequences of a settlement or court award. Your attorney may recommend a tax professional for further advice and assistance.

Remember tax professionals can offer valuable help filing this year’s taxes and planning ahead.


Karen Marshall has more than 17 years of legal experience and is an attorney with The Peterson Firm. She has been contributing to The Mesothelioma Center since 2011 and writes about asbestos-related legal issues and blogs for Asbestos.com.

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