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Finance

Free assistance in preparing your taxes

Tax Season
Photo: agrilifetoday / flickr

It’s March, which means the deadline for filing your personal income tax returns is just around the corner. Tax Day, April 15, will be here sooner than you think. It’s best to file as soon as possible, so get started on the process early. Whether you’re filing on your own or using a service, you’ll want to start gathering the necessary documents in order. It will be helpful to have on hand the Social Security numbers of your spouse, children and dependents, your W-2 forms and other forms about your income, and last year’s tax return.

For your state income tax return, you can find the necessary forms at ftb.ca.gov The Internal Revenue Service offers free filing software online at www.irs.gov/filing.

Preparing one’s income tax returns can be a challenging process, especially considering the recent changes in state and federal tax laws. Thankfully, as a California taxpayer you have state and federal programs available to assist you as you file your return.

If you earn less than $51,000 per year and are unsure of how to properly file your taxes, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs are available to you to ensure you get the best return possible. VITA offers help to qualifying taxpayers regardless of age, while TCE is tailored to assist senior citizens.

San Francisco State will be hosting these programs up until April 15 at 1600 Holloway Ave., Room 205 in the Science Building, Monday-Friday from 12:30-6 p.m. and on Saturdays 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Assistance will be offered in Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment with an in-language volunteer, please call 415-338-1079. You can find additiona VITA programs at irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep.

The Internal Revenue Service also has a Taxpayer Advocate service that provides an independent system to ensure that un-resolved tax problems go through normal channels are handled promptly and properly. If you have any unresolved tax issues, be sure to contact the service center. The taxpayer advocate is independent of the local IRS office and reports directly to the National Taxpayer Advocate. You can reach the Bay Area’s local Taxpayer Advocate by calling 510-637-2703.

As you file your taxes keep the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in mind. The EITC is a program for working people who earn low to moderate income. You could be eligible to receive thousands of dollars back from the federal income tax you paid throughout the year. Even if you didn’t pay any income tax you could still be eligible for a tax credit from the IRS. Every year millions of federal dollars go unclaimed by working people and families that don’t apply for the EITC.

If you are filing with VITA, TCE or another service, be sure to ask whether or not you qualify for the the EITC. For more information, please go to my website at www.assembly.ca.gov/ting, and click on the link to the Earned Income Tax Credit brochure.

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As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact my office at 415-557-2312.

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