Two words that strike fear in many people are "tax time". It is the unavoidable chore we face each year at this time to fill out a bunch of complicated tax forms, decipher all the tax statements like W2's, 1099 and 1098's we receive in the mail and getting all this done by April 15th of each year. Here are three options if you just cannot face this by yourself?
- The IRS, yes the dreaded Internal Revenue Service themselves offer help with your return through a group of volunteers that will help qualifying taxpayers prepare their return. The VITA program as it is known offers free help to anyone who makes less than $50,000 per year or for anyone who is 60 years of age or older there is the similar TCE program that is offered in conjuction with AARP. You can find a VITA location near you by entering your zip code on the VITA locator website or for the TCE program go to the AARP Tax Aide site.
- If you don't qualify for the free assistance from the IRS, but just need some advice the Texas Society of CPA's offers a free hotline for people to call in with tax questions and speak with a Certified Public Accountant. The hotline is only open for specific time periods each tax season. You can find out more on their website at TSCPA.ORG.
- Finally if you need to hire a tax professional to prepare your return for you, here are some things to consider. Beginning last year the IRS requires that anyone who prepares tax returns professionally be registered with the service and have a valid Preparer Tax ID number or PTIN. If the IRS has questions about your return, you can allow them to speak directly with the person who prepared your return, but only if that person is an Enrolled Agent, CPA or licensed attorney. Anyone who is paid to prepare your return should also sign the return at the bottom under your signature and they should always provide you with a copy of the return.
One piece of good news is due to the weekend and a federal holiday, you actually have until April 17, 2012, to file your tax return this year. Don't use that as an excuse and procrastinate any longer, get that return done and you will feel better about it.