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taxes

Taxes

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Tax Preparation Help and Refund Anticipation Loans

 

Before tax season starts, there are some facts you should know about sources of free tax preparation help and refund anticipation loans.

Tax Preparation

While there are tax preparation programs, companies, and people who will prepare your taxes, most of them charge a fee for doing so. Many also charge for filing your return. There should be absolutely no reason to pay someone to prepare your tax return. There are several ways to have your income tax return prepared for you free, as outlined below. There are also many organizations in each county that will prepare and file your return for you.

Free File

The IRS Free File program makes tax software programs available to eligible taxpayers for free. The Free File software programs will help you complete your federal income tax return and will then file the return with the IRS for you at no cost. The software programs given to eligible taxpayers are the same tax programs that are sold in stores. Anyone with an adjusted gross income up to $56,000 can use Free File this year.

To use Free File, you must use a computer and go to the IRS website. From the IRS.gov website, you can link to one of the tax software company website that are part of the Free File program. Once you have reached the Free File Home—Your Link to Free Online Filing page, you will find information to help you with filing your federal return online. Click the Start Now button to review the list of tax software companies and select one that best suits your needs. Once you select a company link from the list, you will be notified you are leaving the IRS.gov website, and you will be taken directly to that company’s website to begin preparation of your federal income tax return. Remember, you must access the company through the IRS.gov website in order to use Free File.

As you start using the program, you will be asked a series of questions. Your answers to these questions will allow the program to prepare your return and calculate your taxes and refund. When you are finished answering the questions and your return has been prepared, your return will be automatically filed electronically. Most people receive their refund within 10 days of using the Free File program.

The Free File program will only help you with your federal income taxes. You may consider one of the following options for your state income taxes.

Local IRS Offices
All offices open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

City

Street Address

Telephone

Cherry Hill

57 Haddonfield Rd.
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

(856) 321-1328

Edison

100 Dey Place
Edison, NJ 08817

(732) 572-9752

Fairfield

165 Passaic Ave.
Fairfield, NJ 07004

(973) 808-0821

Freehold

4 Paragon Way
Freehold, NJ 07728

(732) 660-0063

Jersey City

30 Montgomery St.
Jersey City, NJ 07302

(201) 332-9110

Mays Landing

5218 Atlantic Ave.
Mays Landing, NJ 08330

(609) 625-0678

Mountainside

200 Sheffield St.
Mountainside, NJ 07092

(908) 301-2112

Newark

20 Washington Place
Newark, NJ 07102

(973) 645-6690

Paramus

1 Kalisa Way
Paramus, NJ 07652

(201) 634-7052

Parsippany

1719-C Rte. 10
Parsippany, NJ 07054

(973) 808-0821

Paterson

200 Federal Plaza
Paterson, NJ 07505

(973) 357-4114

Trenton

44 S. Clinton Ave.
Trenton, NJ 08609

(609) 989-0533

E-File

If you made more than $56,0900 in 2008, you can also file your taxes online through e-file. Filing electronically means a quicker refund. To electronically file your taxes, you need access to a personal computer and the Internet. You can buy tax software from a retailer, download software from an Internet site and prepare your return offline, or prepare and file your return online. Some companies will e-file for free, while others charge a minimal fee. If you have supporting documents that must be submitted to the IRS, you must mail them to the IRS with Form 8453 within three business days of the IRS acknowledgement of your electronically filed form. The IRS does not charge a fee for e-file, but a tax preparer often will charge. To find an IRS-authorized e-filer, click this link and enter your zip code.

New This Year: Free File Fillable Tax Forms

The IRS has a new, free tool this year, Free File Fillable Tax Forms, available only through the IRS' website. Free File Fillable Tax Forms are electronic versions of hard-copy forms, designed for people who know which forms and instructions they need, There is no income limit to use Free File Fillable Tax Forms. Taxpayers can enter tax data, perform basic math calculations, print their records, and then sign and file electronically.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

There are hundreds of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites around the state. The VITA sites are staffed with people who can help prepare your income tax return for free if your 2008 income is $42,000 or below. There are usually VITA sites sponsored by AARP at local libraries, churches, senior centers, and other neighborhood locations. To locate the site closest to you, call 1-800-TAX-1040 or go to the IRS website, and type in the words volunteer income tax assistance or vita. To find an AARP volunteer, call 1-888-227-7669 or go to the AARP website. The sites also have all the tax forms (1040, 1040EZ, etc.) and instructions you may need to prepare your return. You may also contact the Tax Legal Assistance Program at Legal Services of New Jersey to locate a VITA site by calling 1-888-576-5529.

IRS

Your local IRS office will also prepare your tax return for you at no charge, if your income is at or below $40,000. You can find the local IRS office address and telephone number in the box above and at the IRS website.

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) is another program that provides free tax preparation to people age 60 and older. For more information on the TCE program and to find TCE sites, call the IRS toll-free at 1-800-829-1040.

Where can I find tax forms?

Many post offices and libraries have IRS tax publications, forms, and instructions available. Participation of post offices and libraries changes from year to year, so call ahead before making the trip. Electronic kiosks containing commonly-used forms (Form 1040 series) and tax information are also available in some locations. You can also type contact my local office in the search box on the IRS website to find availability by state. All local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers have tax publications, forms, and instructions available to pick up.

Publication 910 is a complete listing of free tax services. You can get this brochure by calling the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or by visiting the IRS website.

A variety of Braille materials may be ordered at no charge by calling the IRS at 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676). The Braille print files are in .brf format and can be sent directly to an embosser for high-quality Braille output.



Refund Anticipation Loans

Refund anticipation loans are loans that have very high interest rates. The loan is made to you in an amount equal to or less than the amount you will get from the IRS as a tax refund.

When you repay the loan, you will also have to pay interest, which can range from 50% to 700% of the loan amount. Instead of keeping your entire refund, you will have to turn over the refund and the interest to the lender.

If the IRS does not agree with the numbers on your tax return and does not refund the amount of money you anticipated, you still owe the lender the full amount you borrowed and the interest on that amount.

Refund anticipation loans are not that much quicker than waiting for the refund from the IRS. If you file electronically, the IRS can send your refund to you within 10 to 14 days. Even if you do not file electronically, you should receive your refund in a few weeks. To check on the status of your refund, you can contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or go to the IRS website.

Finally, if you want to know when your refund will be sent to you, you can get that information at Where’s My Refund? (from the IRS website). To get the answer, you will need to enter your Social Security number or ITIN, the filing status you used, and the anticipated amount of the refund.

This article is from the December 2008 issue of Looking Out for Your Legal Rights®.

This information last reviewed 11/2/11.

 

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