Need Tax Filing Assistance? VITA Can Help

Tax filing assistance with VITA

Get tax filing assistance from skilled VITA volunteers


Tax season is upon us, and if you’re in need of tax preparation assistance, you’re in luck. The IRS offers two volunteer-based programs to qualified taxpayers.

VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) provides tax filing assistance to any taxpayer who meets any of the following criteria:

• Earn $54,000 or less per year
• Disabled
• Limited English proficiency speaker and will need help in reading and interpreting tax forms and tax return instructions.

VITA sites are found in community centers, shopping malls, senior centers, libraries and other community gathering spots. IRS-trained volunteers will help you file a basic tax return at no charge to you.

To locate a VITA site, call (800) 906-9887 or use the online locator to find a site near you.

Help For Taxpayers Over 60

If you’re over 60 and have retirement or pension-related tax concerns, the TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) program is available to you.

IRS-trained volunteers, in cooperation with the AARP Foundation will assist you in preparing and filing a basic tax return, much like they do in the VITA program.

To find the nearest TCE site, call (888) 227-7669 anytime between January and April to find the nearest site and/or to schedule your appointment.

To locate a TCE site online, use the AARP Tax Aide locator.

Getting Organized is Key

Regardless of which program you choose, getting organized ahead of time is essential to filing an accurate and timely return.

Limited-income taxpayers, disabled taxpayers and those with limited English skills are welcome to participate in the VITA program. Older taxpayers also have access to IRS-certified volunteers to help them file their tax returns.

If you are in any of the above groups and prefer to self-file, just look for the “self prep” designation in the VITA/TCE site listing.

Three New (Tax) Year’s Resolutions You Must Keep

Untitled design(3)If you’re creating your New Year’s resolutions, don’t forget to include resolutions for the new tax year. Getting off to a solid start with organization and sound tax planning practices will save you serious headaches at this time next year. Here are three New (Tax) Year’s resolutions to keep in mind as 2016 approaches.

1. Get organized

Now is the time to set up a filing and/or record-keeping system for all of your tax documentation, especially if you plan on itemizing your deductions in 2016, or are self-employed.

Keep all of your receipts and paperwork in one location, and set up a filing system that works best for you. Set aside a filing cabinet or folder if keeping papers copies of documents is more your style, or set up electronic folders if you plan on scanning your income documents.

If you are self-employed or have a side gig or tip income, set up a spreadsheet for recording your tips and miscellaneous income. Set up another spreadsheet for your expenses, and update it as the year progresses.

You will be able to refer to all of your records quickly when tax season rolls around next year.

2. File early

No one likes the idea of filing their taxes, but if you plan to file early, you can correct any errors you might find on your tax forms, such as your W2 or 1099 forms. Make sure these forms have your current address, and that your name and social security number are correct. By planning ahead of time, you can allow for the extra time should you need to have any of these forms corrected…no last-minute hassles.

Another benefit to filing early: you’ll get your refund earlier. As an early filer, you’ll also experience a quicker turn-around in processing and mailing your refund.

By filing early, you’ll also be less at risk for identity theft. The longer you wait, the more opportunity identity thieves have to file a fraudulent return in your name.

3. File for an extension

If you’re facing the Tax Year of Doom and the mountains of paperwork that goes along with it, consider filing for an extension. This is especially true if there are tax documents that will be delayed for any reason. If you know for certain that you will not be ready on tax day, filing an extension will relieve much of that tax-day stress.

An extension could buy you the extra time you need to get your tax documents in order and to receive documents that have been delayed for any reason (e.g. financial records related to a divorce, sale of property, trust or an estate). Your extension will expire on Oct. 15.

Tomorrow: Even more New(Tax) Year’s resolutions

It Will Be Here Sooner Than You Think: Preparing For the October 15th Deadline

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If you missed the April 15th deadline and filed for an extension, the October 15th cut-off date is rapidly approaching. Here is what you need to know in order to prepare for the deadline:

1. Paperwork: Regardless how you will be filing (DIY or with a tax pro) gather all the necessary paperwork now. That includes income documentation (W2s, 1099s, K-1s, if applicable). Confirm the information on these forms matches your name, address, social security number. Any discrepancies will result in delayed return processing and a delayed refund.

2. Social Security Numbers: Make sure the social security numbers for you, your spouse and your dependents are correct. If you are using a spreadsheet or app to organize your tax information, make sure the social security numbers are correctly recorded on the spreadsheet or in the app; incorrect or missing social security numbers will wreck havoc with your return and cause delays.

3. Deductions: Did you start a business, look for work, have a child, buy a home, volunteer or contribute to a charity? All of these activities are possible write-offs if you choose to itemize your tax deductions this year. There are additional deductions for child/dependent care, IRA contributions, medical expenses, and summer day camp for your kids. Tax deductions can lower your taxable income, which in turn will lower your overall tax liability.

Gather all of your expense receipts, and keep them handy for filing day. You’ll need to refer to them as you fill out your tax forms.

4. File Online: There are IRS-approved software packages for every budget, so avoid the long lines at the tax prep office and file online. Gather all of your tax records, set aside an hour or less, and file online. You’ll receive step-by-step instructions for each page, and support is readily available through the software package. If you select the direct deposit option for your refund, you can expect to receive the funds in about three weeks.

5. Request a Payment Plan: While you can’t request an extension to pay your taxes, you can request a payment plan. You’ll have up to six years to pay your tax balance if you qualify, and you’ll have payments you can live with.

With these tips in mind, the impending deadline need not feel like impending doom; instead it will be just another date on your calendar. Gather your paperwork, calculate your deductions, set aside some time, and go forth and file!