Tax season is upon us and with it comes the yearly stress of gathering paperwork and filling in the right forms.
If you don’t have a plan yet to complete your returns, here are some tips:
- There is free tax preparation help out there. Many services are targeted at people with low incomes, but you can also find help even if you're in the higher earnings brackets. The Youth Policy Institute offers free tax prep assistance. Community Outreach Specialist Matthew Fontana says his group focuses on low-incomes, but won't turn anyone away. Call 1-800-906-9887 with any questions on tax services or make an appointment through April 17.
- If you’re facing possible tax problems or worried about how much you might owe, don’t avoid seeking help. "My advice would be to come in and check it out anyway," Fontana said. He advises taxpayers to get armed with information first and then decide how to proceed.
- You can get free tax preparation help on April 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hollywood FamilySource Center at 1075 N. Western Ave. Call 323-836-0055 to make an appointment.
- The IRS provides a way to locate volunteer tax preparation help near you on its website. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free help to those generally making $54,000 or less, having disabilities or with limited English. Another program, Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE), offers free help to all, and targeting those 60 and older.
- Preparers have been asked how the new GOP tax law will effect tax filings for next year. Some changes like lower tax withholding and adjustments to tax brackets take effect this year, but other changes won't impact your returns until next year.
- If you are a low-income earner, you may qualify for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC). You can learn more about how that might benefit you here.
Mayra Espindola at WLCAC Family Source Center assists community members with their taxes and helps direct them to other resources. They take walk-in appointments at 1212 E. 108th Street in Los Angeles, but appointments are suggested. You can call 323-357-6262 for more information.
Espindola says this year more people are aware of CalEITC than she's seen in the past. “They come in asking," she said.
Finally, the deadline to submit federal tax returns this year is not April 15 but April 17. That's because April 15 falls on a Sunday and Emancipation Day, a holiday in Washington, D.C., is observed on Monday, April 16.