The deadline for filing taxes is exactly 39 days away, and maneuvering the maze of paperwork and barrage of qualifications to get a possible tax refund can be complicated.
To help, AARP is offering free-of-charge tax assistance to senior citizens and people with low and moderate incomes.
Certified tax preparers will be at the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1506 Veterans Blvd., in Cove.
For those who cannot make it out or do not qualify, tax preparers Anette Donker, owner of DonkBuilt Service Exchange, and Nadine Field, CPA at John Lister Inc., recommend taking advantage of several tried-and-true methods to make the ordeal easier.
“Don’t put it off, everybody knows that Oct. 15 is the extension deadline, but the longer you wait the further off it gets and your memory gets kind of fuzzy,” Field said, explaining that delaying filing taxes is never the answer.
Although too late to recoup a disorganized record-keeping situation for this year, she recommended people start saving receipts and records for next year.
“If you’ve got a business, don’t forget mileage. Mileage is like icing on the cake and it can really bring self-employment income down,” she said.
Individual Retirement Accounts, she said, a tax-friendly way to store income, is also a smart option.
Savings strategies aside, however, Donker recently advised residents on the rise in scams that occur during tax season. According to Internal Revenue Service reports and Donker many scams take place when residents get a phone call from the “IRS.”
While the scammers, or fake “IRS,” try to tackle an alleged issue with a residents tax records, they ask for personal information.
“Well, it boils down to identify theft,” she said. “And the IRS doesn’t contact you by phone.”
Other red flags for individuals to look out for during tax season, according to an IRS report, are emails asking for personal information, inflated refunds and possibly fraudulent certified tax preparers.
For more information on the tax structure changes that occurred this past year and how to take advantage of refunds, go to www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/New-Tax-Guide-Helps-People-With-Their-2013-Taxes.