Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tax Help in Several Mediums

Writing this post was the first, (and probably will be the last), time that I was excited about taxes. The reason? Hopefully the following information will lessen your own potential tax anticipation dread, and may even provide you with an increased refund as well as free assistance with the preparation and filing of your taxes.

The "potential free tax preparation" aspect of this paragraph is brought to you by the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This is a federal tax credit for low-to-middle income working individuals and families. To qualify, you must file an income tax return - even if the IRS doesn't require filing income taxes for your income level. A great benefit from qualifying for and claiming this credit is that not only may it increase your refund, but that you can receive free assistance with your return.

Here is a general breakdown of those who will most likely qualify for the EITC from the Virginia Department of Social Services, who has great detail about this tax credit on their website.

If you worked in 2009 and had an earned income of less than:
  • $13,440 ($18,440 if married filing jointly) if there is no qualifying child you may be eligible for a credit of up to $457.
  • $35,463 ($40,463 if married filing jointly) if there is one qualifying child you may be eligible for a credit of up to $3,043.
  • $40,295 ($45,295 if married filing jointly) if there are two qualifying children you may be eligible for a credit of up to $5,028.
  • $43,279 ($48,279 if married filing jointly) if there are three or more qualifying children you may be eligible for a credit of up to $5,657.

Unsure of your exact income numbers as stated above? The IRS has an EITC "Eligibility Screening" website in both English and Spanish to help you determine if you qualify - click here to be taken directly to the site, and choose the 2009 tax year version, then click on "Start Here: Am I an Eligible Individual?"

It should only take about 15-20 minutes, and you should have your 2009 W-2 handy to complete the screening.

Once you determine if you are qualified for the EITC, there are numerous free tax preparation organizations in Richmond and the surrounding areas. The Greater Richmond Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition (GREITCC) is a great organization to call ((804) 755-6432) to find your closest tax preparation station.

The GREITCC is currently running two sites in Henrico County - you can also visit Henrico County's website to learn more:
  • Human Services Building, 8600 Dixon Powers Drive
  • Feb. 2 to April 14
  • 4-8 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday
  • Fairfield Area Library, 1001 N. Laburnum Ave.
  • Feb. 13 to March 13
  • 9 a.m.-1 p.m. each Saturday
There are additional EITC tax preparation sites in Richmond, including many local social service offices, including the Richmond City Department of Social Services. Call to find the details and hours they have available for EITC tax preparation:

Marshall Plaza Building
900 E. Marshall St.
Richmond, VA 23240
(804) 646-7212

Click here for their website, which includes the addresses and hours for the Southside and East Richmond Community Service Centers.

For those who might not qualify for the ETIC, there are a few other sources of help with your taxes at the Richmond Public Library. While we can't promise free tax preparation, we can offer you the tools to help you do it yourself!

Stand Up to the IRS

Frederick W. Daily

This book is not quite as combative as the title might suggest - it actually is a good resource for explaining procedures of the IRS and how to use this knowledge to your advantage. Topics range from how to file for a late tax return to how to get a Taxpayer Assistance Order.

Deduct It! Lower your small business taxes

For any small business owners out there, this guide provides an in-depth look at how small businesses are taxed and how to maximize all of your potential deductions that the IRS considers legitimate.

J.K Lasser's Online Taxes

Barbara Weltman

A complete guide to using the internet to prepare and submit your taxes. This guide is a few years old, but still contains tax strategies and valuable advice about comparing tax preparation programs, how to use them and what might work best for you.

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