FAIRFIELD — It is the time of year when thoughts turn from holiday joy to tax drudgery.
Many people, especially seniors, might consider going to a professional to have their taxes done, but one of the options available to those who qualify is free income tax assistance.
The Internal Revenue Service Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers free tax help for taxpayers who make $52,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. The volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified people in local communities.
“A lot of seniors fall into the low-income category, they don’t have the resources to pay for their taxes to be done,” said Rochelle Sherlock, a consultant to the Senior Coalition of Solano County, an advisory board to Solano County’s Board of Supervisors.
Volunteers can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. The IRS volunteer assistance sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools and shopping malls. The program is affiliated with United Way.
“One of the great things about the (volunteer assistance) programs is that it helped bring money back into the community by way of tax credits to taxpayers,” said Joe Flynn, of AmeriCorps VISTA. “Last year over $1 million Earned Income Tax Credits were given back to taxpayers.”
Several places in Solano County will be set up to assist seniors in preparation for the April 15 deadline. They include:
The volunteer assistant sites will also have “Super Saturday” free tax preparation events every Saturday through the month of February.
According to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance website, taxpayers should bring a valid driver’s license or photo identification; all W-2 and 1099 forms for 2013; Social Security card for each member of the family and, for those filing jointly, the spouse’s card; copy of last year’s tax return; and information on checking or savings account numbers for direct deposit of refunds.
Most low-income taxpayers will be doing a 1040 EZ form, but help is available for those who need more in-depth help.
“We have tax preparers who can do schedule C forms, C EZ forms, schedule A and capital gains forms,” Flynn said.
Taxes will be processed using computers and sent via the Internet. All tax returns are filed electronically and taxpayers can expect to receive their refund within seven to 10 business days.
“This is great for people who don’t have computers or are not computer savvy,” Flynn said.
AARP’s volunteer Tax-Aide program also offers free tax help with locations at:
Taxpayers should bring a valid driver’s license or photo identification; all W-2 and 1099 forms for 2013; Social Security card for each member of the family and, for those filing jointly, bring the spouse’s card; information for tax deductions; copy of last year’s tax return; and information on checking or savings account numbers for direct deposit of refunds, according to www.aarp.org.
AARP has no income limit for assistance, but they are limited in the types of taxes that they can do. They cannot do business taxes for businesses earning more than $10,000. Also, they do not do any tax preparations for income property such as rentals, said Susan Millsap, district coordinator for AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program.
AARP e-filing is free for state and federal taxes.
Reach Susan Hiland at 427-6981 or firstname.lastname@example.org.