Tax time

In April, after I finished filing federal and state income tax forms for my husband and me, I realized I still had work ahead of me: Mom’s taxes. I kind of think a person on Medicaid shouldn’t have to file taxes. And maybe she doesn’t. I guess that’s something I have to look into. But until Aug. 1, 2009, Mom was a regular citizen, earning her small income and using her retirement savings and investment income to pay for her apartment in an assisted living facility and her own medications. And then her money ran out.

So on or just before April 15, with panic in my heart, I filed for an extension for Mom’s taxes. I realized I didn’t have an IRS form telling me how much she earned from Social Security, probably because her address had changed and I hadn’t told anyone official. I changed her address with the IRS and Social Security, and eventually got a replacement form. And then I set it aside until this past weekend, just days before the six-month deadline to file before the extension ran out.

As usual, I dreaded doing her taxes. I never like doing the taxes, but I know how to do them and I take care of them at our house because I have a so-called small business (free-lance proofreading) and therefore my taxes are just slightly more complicated than they’d be if I didn’t do that free-lance work. I also generally take care of the finances. That is just how the household jobs balanced out when Patrick and I got married. Of course, Mom can’t do her own taxes. This is the fourth year I have done them for her with power of attorney authorization. Before that, she went to an accountant to have her taxes done, and I recall that she was very confused about her 2006 tax return that was handled by the accountant. I chose at that time to stay out of it and just assured her that everything was OK, and I was secretly glad that someone else was dealing with her confusion about money. Now, it is part of my caregiving job. So I decided that on Sunday morning, I’d do Mom’s taxes. And then I would go shopping.

It turned out Mom’s taxes did not take very long. Her income came from Social Security and the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System. Two easy answers. And I had kept the statements from the IRAs and annuities I had closed after her savings ran out and I had to free up every penny of her money so she could go on Medicaid. One other answer. And last year, I went through the trouble of figuring out how to calculate her medical cost tax deduction. This year, I used that figure to calculate eight months of similar spending while she was in assisted living, and then added up her four months of expenses at the Alz center, and that was that. For the second year in a row, she spent more on her medical needs than she earned in income. Such is life when you have Alzheimer’s.

So the tax return is ready to mail. And I also have prepared a letter to Mom’s Medicaid case worker, sending him a copy of a statement she received at the end of August saying her retirement income will increase just slightly for the next 12 months. It took me awhile to locate the Medicaid approval letter in which the case worker’s name appeared. I also noticed I was supposed to inform him of this change in Mom’s benefit within 10 days of being notified about it myself. So I have messed that up by about 32 or so days. I hope that doesn’t do any damage to her Medicaid status. I know that a higher benefit means I have to pay a little bit more to the Alz center each month; I assume I might have to pay retroactively for September, or something like that. I have yet to hear a single word from Mom’s Medicaid case worker since she was deemed eligible a year ago. Which has been just fine with me.


2 comments so far

  1. Jeff on

    Emily – I finally caught up with filing just a few weeks ago when i filed 2008 and 2009. It does get so much easier the more you do it. Mine is complicated by the hundreds of receipts i give and keep for various things. But I can’t imagine doing my own. I’m glad you have a handle on the small business thing.

  2. momsbrain on

    Hi, Jeff. My small business is really tiny, just some quarterly proofreading. Doesn’t require much maintenance – just adding up the checks I get from the universities that pay me for the service. I’m sure your taxes are very complicated, and I wouldn’t want to do them, either, if I had hundreds of receipts to deal with!

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