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I really don't like people who take advantage of the elderly. Here's why.

Just got off the phone with one of my clients. She's a batch processor - preferring to do 2 or 3 years at a time. So I'm doing her 2019 and 2020 returns. She did some work on her house. A lot of work. No -- a LOT! of work. Windows. Roof. Driveway. Water heater. Something else that I'm forgetting.

At any rate, the contractor tells her there's tax credits she can use for some of the work. There's tax credits for the windows. And a door. And the roof. So I sit down and do her returns. Yep, there's a tax credit all right. $500.

My phone conversation with my client goes something like this: Did you get the credit for the windows? Yes. That's only $200. How about the door? Yes, that's $300. How about the roof? Well, there's no credit left for the roof. The most credit you can get is $500. And frankly, the door was enough to get the maximum credit. But the contractor said I could get a credit for the roof. You can. But there is a limit to the credit you can get. That limit is $500. But they said it was a 10% credit. Well, yes, sort of. The credit is 10% but can't be more than $500. But I was expecting a few thousand dollars of credit.

At this point, I really want to tell her the contractor lied to her. But I can't. I don't know what she was told. And I don't know how what she was told differs from what she understood. I just stick to what I can tell her. And that is that her credit for all of the work she did on the house is $500.

I don't think I saw all of the contractor's bills. But based on the ones I did see, I'm pretty sure she spent 6 figures with this guy. And she's got a $500 tax credit to show for it.

So, did the contractor take advantage of her? Maybe, maybe not. Again, I don't really know enough to tell. But if I were a betting man, my bet would be on yes, he did. She clearly didn't understand all of what was going on. And it appears the contractor didn't do too much to make sure she did. He just wanted her signature on the contract. And with that, his job was done.

--Peter

PS - Did I mention the $14k tankless water heater? I'm not entirely up on water heater costs, but the last time I did mine it was something a bit over $1000 installed. But it wasn't tankless.
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