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Mom hasn't filed her income tax in over 5 years. She said she never did. Can I do it for her and will she have to pay a fine for not filing?

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For my friend for whom I am his POA, I changed his mailing address to mine so all the mail comes to me. He is living in a memory care apartment now. There was no pushback from social security and I didn't ask them about it, just did it. His SS checks go directly to his checking account on which I am an authorized signer to pay his bills. For taxes, I put all the W2s together for income and add up all the deductible expenses and then go to his tax preparer for the official calculations. I have brought him with the last two times and he signs the forms, but I could do this without him, I think. Due to his care costs and other deductions, all his income tax withholdings are returned. His deductions are about double his income if not more. His income includes social security, his pension, half of his deceased wife's pension, savings interest and his required minimum withdrawals from his and his wife's IRAs. The long term care insurance he receives is non taxable. So, yes you can file your mom's taxes and as POA, you should see to this in my opinion. Good luck with his part of your care.
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I agree with Catmeal. My Mom hasn't filed since she has been widowed. She was sent a letter telling her she no longer had to file because of her income. Moms income is mostly SS. Pension very small.
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A LOT of people don't have to file. It won't hurt to sit down with a tax prep company. We did that every year, it was not expensive and after they complete the 1040, they said she does not have to file. Save those records, because if she needs Medicaid, they will be necessary.
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Think of all the parents who do their kid's taxes. No one uses a POA to do them. I've don't my Dad's for last few years, just as i wanted to do them electronically, as he was still doing on paper. No problem whatsoever. Many people 'do' many people's taxes.
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CarlaCB, I did something similar.   Once my Dad let me do his financial stuff as Power of Attorney, I went on-line and opened up accounts for items that were related to my Dad, such as bank accounts, stock broker, United Healthcare, Social Security, etc.   I pretended to be him so I could keep a watch on everything financial and medical.   To make sure nothing was out of joint.

Thus, I was able to do change-of-address to have everything sent here to my house only.  Dad had a habit as he aged to throw out bills, oops, when he lived at home and at senior living.

I even went into the 3 major credit bureaus and "froze" Dad's credit so that no one could use his identity to get loans, credit cards, etc.   It was easy as I now knew all of what was going on with his financials to answer the credit bureaus security questions.

Why does aging have to get so complex for the adult children?
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My understanding is that she won't have to pay a fine for not filing unless she owed money for those years. My mother has a pension as well as social security and she pays no federal tax because her pension income is not high enough to make her social security even partly taxable. Interest or dividend income isn't necessarily taxable either, for the same reason. However, the fact that she had a CPA doing her taxes for years leads me to believe that she may have had a more or more complicated tax picture.

As a practical matter, I don't think the IRS will care (or check) whether you are doing your mother's taxes under a POA. I've been doing my mother's taxes for years. I do have a POA, but generally I just pretend to be her. I sign her name, type in her passwords, whatever is needed. I wouldn't really worry about the technicalities, as long as the taxes get done and you're familiar enough with the information to do them correctly.
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My mom doesn't have to file. Her only income is SS.
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The IRS does not recognize the POA you already have. They will provide you with their own form to send in. Once they appoint you as POA, you can sign her tax forms.
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You say she always had someone do it. If it was the same someone, I'd start there. My parents filed their taxes through a CPA, and when they could no longer do it, the CPA filed a form (sorry, I don't remember the number) saying that I could sign and file for them as the POA. The IRS recognized my POA as a valid document. For whatever reason (they claim identity theft) Social Security would not recognize the POA, and I was not allowed to change my parents' address to my address, even though I was the one making all the financial decisions and paying the bills from my folks' account. It would be nice if the governmental agencies talked to each other, but apparently they don't.
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If Social Security is her only income and she lives in a state where SS is not taxed, she may very well not have to file income taxes. If she had income from other sources such as dividends, interest, sales of stocks or other investments, etc. she would. Best to consult with a professional or go to IRS.gov and check out the filing requirements.
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Thank you freqflyer. I will do that. I doubt she filed as she had always had someone do it.
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It might be best to have a professional tax preparer help you with this.   If your Mom had income and interest from bank accounts or dividends from stock, she would have needed to file income taxes.   Depending on Mom's income, she probably will need to pay fines for each year not filed.

Have the tax preparer check to see if, in fact, you Mom didn't file income taxes.   I see from your profile she has Alzheimer's/dementia, maybe she had forgotten.

I would love to see where once someone gets to a certain age, like 80, no more paying taxes unless that person is a multi-multi-millionaire or billionaire.
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