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Tips for Filing Your Tax Return

Updated on February 8, 2013

Are you anticipating a tax refund? If yes, then the Earned Income Tax Credit( (EITC) is a very important way to get a tax refund. However, you must file an income tax return by the deadline(April 15 of each year), in order to get a tax refund from the IRS. Each year, many qualified people have been missing out on this opportunity simply because they have failed to file a return. As a result, millions of dollars in available EITC refunds are unclaimed annually.

For anyone who are not quite sure as to what the EITC really is, it's the earned income tax credit which allows low income earners(generally people whose annual income is about 50,000 or less) to keep a greater percentage of their total earnings. This money is returned to them as a tax refund. In order for people to claim the EITC, these are usually the basic guidelines they have to follow:

  • Not having an income greater than $3,150.00 for the year
  • Meet the age requirement(i.e 25-26, if you don't claim a child as a dependent)
  • You cannot be someone else's dependent
  • You must have a valid social security number
  • File an income tax return
  • File a joint return if you are married

If you are filing an income tax return for the first time, and is interested in doing it yourself, there are a few free online software available such as Efile,TurboTax, and TaxAct. However, it's better to have someone who is more experience in tax preparation, because they might be able to help you to get back more money. During income tax season, there are quite a few tax preparation centers that are usually available to help people with tax preparation.

Some of the more popular ones are H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt and a few more. Others are CPAs. You also have a handful of other ordinary people with some income tax preparation experience.

However, some of them can be a bit expensive. Be careful of those dishonest income tax preparers who charge exorbitant fees for the hefty returns they often claimed they can get you.

I wouldn't recommend Rapid Refunds, simply because a rapid refund is essentially a bank loan against your anticipated refund, and the interest rates can be very high. This means you could be giving up a substantial portion of your refund.

If you are not that confident in preparing your tax return, or rather to have the help of someone with more experience, but don't have the fee due to loss of job etc, you may use the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance(VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly(TCE). These programs both offer free tax help to taxpayers who qualify.

If you are not familiar with the VITA program, it's basically a service that generally offers free tax assistance to people whose annual income is $50,000 or less and needed help in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide qualified individuals in local communities with free basic income tax return preparation information. They can provide taxpayers with valuable information about special tax credits for which they may qualify, such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.

VITA sites are generally located throughout community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Most locations also offer free electronics filing. To locate a VITA site near you, call 1800-906-9887 or for more information on VITA and TCE, please visit the IRS website.

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