Taxpayers: the Bell Tolls for Thee (So Look Sharp for Deductions)

Article Highlights:
  • No new  disability-related tax deducations have been announced for the 2009 tax year, but this list of existing deductions may mean money in your pocket.
  • Free tax help may be available in your area.
by Bill Norman on December 31, 2009 - 1:01am

QUEST Vol. 17, No. 1

Grumble, dig deep and fork over, or breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to a check in the mail. One of the two inevitabilities in life – taxes – gains prominence for better or worse in the American consciousness as the new year unfolds.

For people with disabilities, few if any changes have been announced for expenses they may be able to write off as tax deductions for 2009. That said, the deductions that pertained to 2008 and earlier years still are worth wading through Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations to find them.

The extensive list of IRS documents described in the Resources section below addresses most situations from which those with disabilities may be able to extract tax relief. The list also advises filers on how to get no-cost tax advice.

Very briefly, some of the areas to keep in mind while looking for potential tax write-offs include:

  • Medical and dental expenses
  • Assistive devices such as wheelchairs
  • Costs associated with using caregivers for yourself or dependents
  • Costs related to service animals
  • Home improvements that facilitate access for people with disabilities
  • Impairment-related work expenses
  • Costs of adapting motor vehicles to disabled access
  • Credit for people under 65 who retired on permanent disability
  • Some insurance premiums

Even those who owe no tax or who aren’t expecting a refund still should file a tax return.

Note: This issue of Quest went to press before the IRS had finalized all tax information for 2009. Double-check form names, numbers and content for any last-minute changes.


Those without Internet access can obtain a free copy of any publication listed below by calling (800) 829-3676.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
(800) 829-1040

Topic 102 - Tax Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities and the Hearing Impaired

Publication 910 – Guide to Free Tax Services
Information in this publication complements that in Topic 102.

Publication 907 - Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities

Publication 502 – Medical and Dental Expenses

Publication 503 – Child and Dependent Care Expenses
In some cases, the cost of care for a child or other dependent with a disability may be deductible.

Publication 524 - Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled

Publication 525 – Taxable and Nontaxable Information
Describes some disability-related expenses that may be excluded from gross income.

Publication 529 – Miscellaneous Deductions
Includes impairment-related work expenses that may be tax deductible.

Publication 596 – Earned Income Credit (EIC)
Applies to some people who work and have low earned income.

Publication 3966 – Living and Working with Disabilities
Goes into more detail about some deductions described in the IRS publications above.

Free tax preparation services

The IRS Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs use trained community volunteers to provide free tax help for qualified taxpayers – find general information at,,id=107626,00.html

(800) 829-1040
Offers free help to low- to moderate-income people (earning $49,000 and below) at VITA sites in many communities. Call for locations.

(888) 227-7669
Free tax help to people 60 and older. As part of TCE, AARP offers its Tax-Aide counseling program at more than 7,000 sites nationwide.

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