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Tax Tips for the Deaf

Updated for Tax Year 2016


OVERVIEW

One in five Americans has a severe hearing loss, yet may not be aware of the special tax deductions and credits allowed by the Internal Revenue Service.


One in five Americans has a severe hearing loss, yet may not be aware of the special tax deductions and credits allowed by the Internal Revenue Service. Knowing about these deductions and credits can help you know which receipts and paperwork to save so you can claim them on your taxes.

Medical deductions

If you itemize your deductions on your taxes and your medical expenses total more than 10 percent of your adjusted gross income, you might get a tax deduction. These expenses include mileage to and from doctor and diagnostic appointments, prescriptions, eyeglasses and insurance premiums. Deaf individuals and those with hearing loss have special expenses they can deduct to reach that 10 percent threshold.

Examples include:

  • Hearing aid, batteries, maintenance and repairs
  • Telephone equipment and repair costs including phones with special ringers, captioned phones and teleprinters
  • Televisions and related accessories that amplify sound, provide closed captions and their repair costs
  • Guide dog, including veterinary, grooming and food expenses
  • Special education such as lip-reading instruction
  • Wiring your home with special smoke detectors and burglar alarms

There is a temporary exemption from Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2016 for individuals age 65 and older and their spouses. If you or your spouse are 65 years or older or turned 65 during the tax year you are allowed to deduct unreimbursed medical care expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. The threshold remains at 7.5% of AGI for those taxpayers until Dec. 31, 2016.

Disability-related work expenses

If you work, you can list the cost of things you buy to perform your job as business expenses included in your itemized deductions. These miscellaneous deductions must be work-related, which makes them different from medical expense deductions.

In addition to what you might pay for disability-related transportation costs, consider any special aids you need in order to work effectively, such as the following:

  • Video conferencing equipment
  • Computer and accessories
  • Special telephones
  • Video cameras
  • Broadband Internet connection for video relay

Disability tax credit

If you are at least 65 years old, retired because of your disability and get taxable disability income, you may qualify for the Credit for the Elderly or Disabled. Even if you retired before age 65, you may be able to claim this credit if your hearing loss or deafness classifies as a total disability that bars you from gainful employment. You need a physician's statement on file that supports your qualification.

Earned income tax credit

You may also qualify for the earned income tax credit, or EITC, depending on how much you make. Social Security Disability Insurance payments, money you get from disability insurance, and military disability pensions do not count as income when determining your eligibility for EITC. You would need another source of earned income to qualify.

Your age and retirement status also affect what the IRS considers to be earned income. For example, when you reach your minimum retirement age, any disability retirement benefits you receive become a pension in the eyes of the IRS and therefore no longer count as earned income. When you qualify for EITC, you pay less tax — and might even get a refund check.

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The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.


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