How to get your taxes done for free
2014-02-02 | Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
Feb. 02--It's the season for W2's, 1099's, deductions and itemizations.
There are several organizations on the Peninsula that will help you submit your 2013 tax returns for free.
Students in Christopher Newport University's Luter School of Business will prepare and e-file tax returns free of charge this year, a university press release says.
The service is geared toward low- to moderate-income taxpayers, and returns will be prepared by accounting majors certified by the IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. The student volunteers are trained to prepare Form 1040 returns as well as Schedule A, B and simple Schedule D forms, and forms related to the earned income credit, child credit, dependent care credit, additional child credit, credit for the elderly and disabled, and the education credit.
The service will be available beginning Monday, Feb. 3 in Luter Hall, located on the CNU campus in Newport News. No appointment is necessary. A sign-up sheet will be located in the building's main lobby.
Service hours are noon to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays.
Services will not be available March 3, 5, 6, 26 or 27.
Those taking advantage of the service should arrive early enough for students to complete returns by 4 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and by 2 p.m. on Thursdays. Students will also assist with taxes on Saturday, March 22 from 1-5 p.m.
For married couples who wish to file their return electronically, both spouses must be present. For additional information, call 757-594-7144.
The Hampton commissioner of the revenue's staff will prepare Virginia income tax returns at no charge, as well.
Those interested in the free service, should bring a copy of their completed federal income tax return -- including all attached schedules and W-2s and 1099s -- to the commissioner's office at 1 Franklin St. Suite 102. The service is available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Call 757-727-6690.
There are some restrictions, so go online to the Hampton city website at hampton.gov for more information.
You can find out about free preparation of your federal tax returns at the Internal Revenue Service, 903 Enterprise Parkway, Suite 100, Hampton.
The local AARP chapter provides a volunteer tax aid team that offers free tax preparation help in five different locations on the Peninsula.
The team will help prepare both federal and Virginia state tax returns and file them electronically. Customers usually receive their refund money within a few days, a press release says. The program is certified by the IRS.
During the previous tax season, this team completed more than 3,700 tax returns resulting in more than $3.6 million in refunds for the Peninsula community, according to the news release.
The five teams opened for business on Saturday, Feb. 1 and will operate regularly through Tuesday, April 15. The teams are at:
-- West Hampton Community Center, 1638 Briarfield Road, Hampton, open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday
-- Downing Gross Cultural Center, 24 Wickham Ave. Newport News, open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday
-- American Legion Hall, Post 368, 368 American Legion Drive, Newport News, open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
-- Hilton Christian Church, 100 James River Drive, Newport News, open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday
-- Senior Center of York, Washington Square Shopping Center, 5314 George Washington Memorial Highway, Yorktown VA 23692, open from 9 a.m. to 1
p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The service is open to the public, but the program is designed for taxpayers with low- or middle-income ranges, paying special attention to those ages 60 and older.
For additional information call 898-6114 or 867-9335.
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help for taxpayers who make $52,000 or less annually.
There are more than a dozen locations on the Peninsula, including the James City County Recreation Center, Hampton University and the United Way of the Virginia Peninsula.
Visit irs.gov for more information.
One of the most notable changes to tax law in the past year is connected to the health care industry. Carrie McLean, director of customer care at eHealthInsurance.com, offers these tips for filing your 2013 returns.
--Look out for new limits on medical expense deductions. Fewer people will be able to deduct medical expenses from their 2013 federal taxes. Up until 2012 you were able to itemize and deduct medical expenses in excess of 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. As a result of health reform, that threshold has been raised to 10 percent.
You can refer to IRS Publication 502 for more information about qualifying medical expenses.
--Consider claiming expenses for the care for an aging parent. If your elderly parent earned less than $3,900 in 2013 (excluding Social Security in most cases) and you provided more than half of his or her financial support, you may be able to claim your parent as a dependent. This earns you an additional dependent exemption, even if your parent doesn't live with you.
And if you've paid for the medical or nursing care of a dependent parent, you may also be able to itemize your costs as qualified medical expenses.
--Look out for the 2014 tax penalty for going uninsured. In 2014, most Americans will be required to have health insurance in one form or another. If you don't have employer-based coverage and are not enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid, and you don't otherwise qualify for one of the exceptions provided by the law, you may be required to purchase coverage on your own.
If you don't -- and if you're uninsured for more than three consecutive months in 2014, you may trigger a tax penalty on your 2014 federal tax return. The penalty, which will be applied on your 2014 federal tax return, is $95 or 1 percent of your income, whichever is greater. Penalties will increase in succeeding years.
In order to avoid the penalty for 2014, be sure to enroll in coverage before the end of the nationwide open enrollment period, which runs through March 31, 2014.
What to bring
These are some of the documents you will need to bring to any tax preparation service:
--Social Security cards for taxpayers and dependents
--Birth dates for primary, secondary and dependents on the tax return
--Current year's tax forms (if you have received a packet)
--Wage and earning statement(s), such as form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, from all employers
--Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
--A copy of last year's tax returns (if available)
--If using direct deposit, bank routing numbers and account numbers
--Other relevant information about income and expenses, such as total paid for day care and day-care provider's tax identification number, charitable donations, etc.
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