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Tips to make Tax Day a bit easier

By BY ALLISON MILES - AMILES@VICAD.COM
March 2, 2013 at midnight
Updated March 1, 2013 at 9:02 p.m.

7 tax time tips

Questions?

If you have questions regarding deductions, forms or any other aspect of the tax preparation process, the Internal Revenue Service can help. For more information, visit IRS.gov or call 1-800-829-1040.

Did you know ... ?

Free tax preparation services are available from Victoria VITA Crossroads to Crossroads residents who earn $50,000 or less.

• Preparation is available 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at the Victoria College Continuing Education Center, 2200 E. Red River St.

• For more information, call 361-578-2989 or email vita.crossroads@gmail.com.

As Crossroads kids count down the days until that weeklong reprieve that is spring break, the grown-ups have their eye on another looming deadline: the April 15 Tax Day.

Tax season might be well under way, but area preparers say there are plenty of people who have yet to file. Still, they said, there's plenty of time to take care of business.

Here are a few tips for Crossroads residents who have yet to file those taxes.

Don't wait until the last minute.

If you can avoid putting off your taxes, do so. The last week of March through the April 15 deadline tends to bring a mad rush of filers. Now is the perfect time to get things squared away.

Take the proper paperwork.

Have identification ready as well as Social Security cards for yourself, spouse and children. Don't forget tax forms such as your W-2, 1099-MISC and so on. If you're going with a new preparer or preparing your own taxes, you'll also need to know some amounts from last year.

Go with a reliable preparer.

Get referrals from friends and family and check the business out at BBB.org. Go with an enrolled agent, certified public accountant or tax attorney, as these individuals have completed tax exams and must undergo continuing education. Avoid those who base their fees on a percentage of your refund.

Keep your information safe.

Tax preparer fraud is a growing crime, but there are ways to protect yourself. Avoid schemes such as those offering free money with no documentation, homemade flyers offering credits and refunds without proof of eligibility and so on. Remember, the Internal Revenue Service will never solicit tax information via email. Report suspicious emails that claim to be from the IRS to phishing@irs.gov.

Know your electronic information.

Returns come electronically these days to checking or savings accounts. Have those numbers handy either through a bank card or canceled check.

Ask questions when necessary.

Tax time can be confusing, so when in doubt, ask. Your preparer can tell you what you need to do beforehand. Information is also available from the IRS either by phone or online.

Take time to breathe.

Tax season can be stressful for everyone, from taxpayers completing returns to preparers working to meet the demand. Stay organized, do what you need to do and it will be OK.

Sources: Evelyn Burleson, with Burleson Tax & Financial in Port Lavaca; Lea Crusberg, Internal Revenue Service spokeswoman; Denise Flores, owner of AccuTax Service in El Campo; Better Business Bureau news release

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