Tax Season and You: Resources for People with Vision Loss

January 29, 2019 | Leave a Comment

by David Flament

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2018 Tax Form 1040 for preparing tax returns

It is that time of year again.  Time to file your taxes.  You may be saying I am on disability and do not need to file my taxes.  Not so fast.  You’ll want to read on for resources that can answer your questions about filing your taxes as a person with vision loss.

Things You Should Know

You probably have tons of questions about filing your taxes like:

  • Do I have to file?
  • Am I eligible for any deductions?
  • What about health care costs?
  • What about equipment I need to purchase for work accommodations?

The folks at Intuit, the makers of TurboTax, have created a nice resource page for people with vision loss:

Tax Tips for the Blind

The IRS also has a page with information for people with disabilities:

More Information for People with Disabilities

 

Where to Get Help Filing Your Taxes

A good place to start is with your local service or rehabilitation organizations.  Some may have tax preparations services available.  If not, they will probably have resources where you can go.  For example, here in Chicago, Blind Service Association, 312-236-0808, usually has IRS-trained volunteer tax preparers to help people with vision loss file their taxes for free.

You can also get help from the IRS through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.  You can search for a tax preparation site using your zip code and distance you want to travel. The following webpages provide information on what documents to bring and who qualifies for assistance:

Tax Assistance for People with Disabilities
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
VITAP Locator

 

Do It Yourself

When I was partially sighted, I filed my own taxes using tax software.  I have to confess, now I usually have a friend who has bookkeeping experience help me with my taxes.  Reading the W-2 form is such a hassle.  That being said, you can do it yourself, but keep a few things in mind:

  • Do not count on your assistive technology to read your W-2 form correctly.
  • Organizing and reading receipts can be difficult.
  • Not all tax software is accessible.
  • There is no help if you are audited.

All that aside, Intuit has made great strides in making their TurboTax software accessible.  With some employers, it can even look up your W-2 form for you and auto-fill in the information on your tax form.  And, if you are just filing a short form, they even have a free version: TurboTax Free Edition.

The IRS also has tax forms and instructions in accessible formats that are downloadable in braille, html and large print.

One other note: IRS services may be affected by the recent government shutdown.

Good Luck!

David is the Manager of Assistive Technology at Second Sense

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