If you are just helping a friend or family member prepare their tax return, it is perfectly legal to do taxes for someone else with their permission. However, they will still need to sign and file the return themselves. If you need to file taxes for another person, you will need official authorization (e.g., Power of Attorney).
Here’s what you need to know:
When to File Taxes for Someone Else
Sometimes people need extra help on their taxes—or are otherwise unable to complete their returns.
You may need to file taxes for
- A dependent who earned income
- Aging parents
- A friend who doesn’t speak English
- A deceased family member
What You Need
Tax preparation requires a lot of documentation and files. If you’re helping someone else prepare their tax return, make sure to collect the following information and records:
- Name, birth date, tax ID, social security number
- Income and investment records (e.g., W-2s or 1099-DIV)
- Charitable donation receipts
- Expense records (medical, etc.)
- Any self-employment or business documents (e.g., 1099-NEC)
- Homeowner information
You should also retrieve a copy of their tax return from the previous year (if they have one). You can access old tax records through the IRS. Or, if they e-filed through a third-party tax prep solution like ezTaxReturn, you can download a copy of their return from their account.
You might also need the person’s bank information for setting up a direct deposit of a refund.
How to File Taxes for Someone Else
If you’re planning to help prepare or file taxes for someone else, keep the following in mind:
- You can file up to five tax returns electronically
- The taxpayer is ultimately responsible for what’s on their tax return
- You cannot charge a fee for your tax services as a non-professional
Filing for a Dependent
If you have a child who earned income last year, they may need to file a tax return. You can assist the child or handle the preparation entirely if they do not understand the process.
Collect any documentation required and fill everything out as usual. Be sure to note on the tax return that they are claimed as a dependent on your return. Do not include their income on your own tax return. Your dependent’s taxes must be filed separately.
Filing for a Parent
Keeping taxes straight in the senior years can be challenging. That’s why many adult children help their parents with their taxes. If you aren’t retired yet, your tax situation will likely look quite different from your parents. For instance, the income threshold for filing taxes is higher for seniors.
- Single seniors over 65 don’t have to file a return until their income exceeds $14,050.
- Married seniors over 65 do not need to file a joint return unless their income exceeds $27,400.
Additionally, social security benefits are taxable based on income level. Keep this in mind as you go, and be on the lookout for tax credits and deductions specific to their situation.
These can include:
- Elderly or Disabled Tax Credit
- Medical Expense Deduction
- Increased Standard Deduction for seniors
- Retirement Savings Contributions Credit
Claiming a Parent as a Dependent
Alternatively, you may be able to claim your parent as a dependent if you are their caregiver and meet certain criteria. If so, you won’t need to file a separate return for them.
To claim a parent as a dependent, you must meet the following requirements:
- You (and your spouse if filing jointly) are not a dependent of another taxpayer.
- Your parent is single or, if married, doesn’t file a joint return.
- Your parent is a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, U.S. resident alien, or a resident of Canada or Mexico.
- You paid more than half of your parent’s support for the calendar year.
- Your parent’s gross income for the calendar year was less than $4,400.
- Your parent isn’t a qualifying child of another taxpayer.
- If your parent is your foster parent, they must have lived with you all year in your main home and as a member of your household.
If you are unmarried and caring for your parent, you may also be able to use the head of household filing status based on the following requirements:
- You’re unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year.
- Your parent may be claimed as a dependent.
- You paid more than half of the cost of keeping up the primary home for you and your parent for more than half of the tax year. Or, you paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for your parent, even if your parent did not live with you.
Signing the Tax Return
If your parent is unable to sign the tax form themselves, you can sign it. You will first need to obtain power of attorney from them or be the court-appointed guardian or conservator.
To sign, you must also file IRS Form 2848 along with your parent’s Form 1040.
Filing for a Late Family Member
Unfortunately, even after someone passes, they may still need their tax return filed as part of settling their tax bill and estate. The responsibility for filing taxes for a deceased person typically falls on the executor of the estate or a surviving spouse.
Tax returns are due on the usual filing deadline the year following the person’s death.
Note that you may have to file returns for more than one year, depending on when the person died. For instance, if they passed in January 2022, you may need to file returns for tax year 2021 and tax year 2022.
If the person owes taxes, the money should come out of their estate. You can set up a payment plan with the IRS if the money is tied up too long.
How to File Taxes for Someone Else with ezTaxReturn
- Create an account with ezTaxReturn. You’ll need a separate account for each person you file for.
- Enter the person’s tax ID. Carefully enter the person’s name, birthday, and SSN or taxpayer identification number (ITIN).
- Follow the process step-by-step. ezTaxReturn walks you through the filing process, so you don’t have to worry about missing a qualifying deduction or making an error on your calculations.
- e-File the return. When you’re done, submit the return electronically. You’ll get IRS confirmation within 24 hours and can expect any refund owed within 21 days.
Filing taxes for someone else can be a chore. Don’t get stuck in the weeds this tax season. Avoid errors, and rest assured you’ll get the best possible refund with ezTaxReturn.