2011 Tax Prep Tips
January: It’s cold, it’s dark, and it marks the beginning of tax season! Filing your income taxes can be stressful, especially if you or someone in your family dealt with unemployment or career uncertainty in 2011.
However, tax season doesn’t have to give you the blues. Beginning tomorrow, January 17, Goodwill is teaming up with the IRS and the Family Financial Literacy Coalition (FFLC) to serve as a site for Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) for Mecklenburg County taxpayers.
Why would Goodwill care about your taxes? We know that it’s important for families to stay on track with their finances so that they can make the best decisions and save for long-term expenses like housing and education.
Serving as a VITA site allows Goodwill to bring together community resources to help taxpayers understand how to make the best financial decisions – which affect your career, your family and your life!
Below are a few tips to help you prepare your tax return:
- Be sure to bring anything that has important tax documents to your appointment. This could include W-9 forms, 1099 forms or financial statements. Click here for a full list of documents.
- Be sure to have all required IDs for yourself and/or dependents. Identification documents must be original (social security cards, birth certificates, etc.)
- Open a bank account to establish a relationship with a financial institution. This can be a bank or credit union. Your professional tax volunteer can give you a list of financial institutions if needed. BONUS: If you use direct deposit, funds are generally deposited into your account within two weeks!
- Don’t procrastinate! Filing your taxes well before the April 17 deadline means you will know whether you owe money in plenty of time before that money is due. That way, you will have time to save or collect the needed funds. Filing early means you can have time to make better financial decisions for you and your family.
- Ask about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which provides tax breaks for some working families who earn up to $50,000 and can provide refunds up to $5,751. The IRS estimates that nearly 25 percent of eligible workers do not claim the EITC each year because they lack awareness of the program, cannot afford costly tax preparation fees or fear they will lose public benefits by filing.
- Double-check everything! The last thing you want is an incorrectly filed tax return. Make sure all signatures are in the correct spot and all your information is correct. If it’s helpful, you can bring last year’s tax returns as a reference for you and the preparer.
Volunteers will be available at the Goodwill VITA site at our Career Development Center (2122 Freedom Drive in Charlotte) during the 2011 tax season, which ends on April 17.
The site will be open each week until April 17 as follows:
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6-9 p.m. (by appointment only)
Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. (walk-ins available)
To schedule an appointment for Goodwill’s VITA site, or to see if you qualify for free tax preparation, please call (704) 761-VITA (8482). Click here for more information.
Thank you for sharing these important tax tips, Jaslyn!
We are excited that Jaslyn has joined our growing list of bloggers for 2012. She will be providing more tips in the coming weeks, primarily focusing on making the best financial, career and life decisions for you and your family. Questions for Jaslyn? Leave a comment below.
For more information about Jaslyn or Goodwill’s family strengthening philosophy, visit our Contributors page. If you know of someone who might benefit from using Goodwill’s Voluntary Income Tax Assistance site, please pass the word along!