It’s the beginning of a new year. A time for resolutions and fresh starts. Why not kick-off 2012 by getting your taxes out of the way? Plan to file early.
Accountants may be the only ones looking forward to tax season. For the rest of us, filing sooner rather than later might mean significantly less stress. We won’t worry about getting our taxes done on time or wonder if we owe money. And if we file early, we can do ‘the happy dance’ a lot sooner if we’re owed a state or federal tax refund.
Most tax statements begin arriving in January, so start gathering your documents now. Keep them all in one place so you won’t need to search your home to find them – also a stress reducer.
If you’re a low- or moderate-income taxpayer filing standard tax forms and need help, reputable organizations are available nationwide to assist you at no cost. Since 1968, AARP has teamed up with the IRS, providing AARP Foundation Tax-Aide services across the country. Today, some 35,000 AARP Foundation Tax-Aide volunteers help over 2.5 million taxpayers predominantly – but not exclusively – people over 60, to complete and file their taxes at more than 6,100 locations. Visit www.AARP.org/taxaide or call toll-free, 1-888-227-7669 for a location near you.
Hispanic seniors – and younger men and women – often hesitate to seek tax assistance due to language and cultural barriers, which increase tax-time anxiety. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide provides bilingual tax counselors at many of its sites to serve taxpayers needing assistance in Spanish.
As a taxpayer, you know the challenges of filing taxes. So, you may want to consider volunteering for AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, especially if you are multilingual, to help others during the next tax season in 2013. Training is available for multiple positions like greeters, communications support and administrative coordination, not just tax preparation. Simply go online using the information above to learn more and submit an electronic application. A volunteer will contact you about training for the 2013 tax season.
When it’s time for your tax preparation appointment, be prepared. At a minimum, take the following documents with you:
- Last year’s tax return
- Social Security cards or other official identification – for yourself and anyone you claim as a dependent(s)
- W-2 statements from all employers
- Unemployment statements (if applicable)
- Form SSA-1099 showing Social Security benefits you received or form RRB-1099, if you receive Tier 1 Railroad Retirement benefits
- 1099 forms reporting interest (1099-INT), dividends (1099-DIV) proceeds from sales (1099-B), and any documentation that shows the original purchase price of any assets you sold
- Form 1099-R, if you received a pension or annuity
- Form 1099-MISC showing any miscellaneous income
- All forms and canceled checks showing federal and state income taxes paid (including quarterly estimated payments)
- Dependent care provider information – name and employer identification number (EIN) or Social Security number
- Cancelled checks or receipts related to dependent care
- If you have enough deductions to itemize instead of taking a standard deduction, also bring:
o Form 1098 showing any home mortgage interest
o Receipts or cancelled checks related to income and property taxes paid and any records of tax refunds
o Charitable contribution receipts
o Receipts or canceled checks for medical and dental expenses, prescriptions, assisted living services, home improvements for disabled persons in your home
• Additionally, if you’re owed a refund and want it direct deposited to your checking account, bring your check book to the appointment.
Get a head start on taxes and get assistance. Reputable help is available – in English and often in Spanish – from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide’s trained, IRS-certified volunteers, who will keep your information strictly confidential. Get the New Year off to a great start by getting your taxes done early. And remember, you’ll find plenty of free information in English and Spanish on AARP’s website at www.aarp.org/ or www.aarp.org/espanol/.