Don’t Pay to File Your Taxes
Around this time of year, everyone is full of tax prep tips. But the best tip you can get is this: Orange County United Way is collaborating with Citi Community Development to help you file your taxes for free!
Households earning less than $60,000 in 2017 might qualify to file state and federal taxes for FREE through OC FREE TAX PREP. An estimated 60% of all Orange County tax filers (per IRS) can take advantage of these free services, which are being offered by Orange County United Way and its partners to help more families file their taxes and see if they qualify for cash-back tax credits.
For example, if you worked in 2017 and your household earned income was less than $54,000, you might qualify to receive more than $6,000 cash back from the federal and newly expanded California Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC). But the only way to claim those credits is to file your taxes.
Check out ocfreetaxprep.com to see if you qualify for assistance and where to find a free tax prep site near you.
Regardless of how you decide to file your taxes, you’ll need certain forms and information to make filing easier. To prepare properly, follow this simple checklist:
- Gather your documents. You’ll need your Adjusted Gross Income from last year’s tax return, in addition to any applicable tax forms. These include W-2’s, for each job held by each person in the household; 1099s, which show other income; 1098s, which record payments you’ve made for such things as school loans and property taxes; and 1095-A, for any credits you’ve received from the healthcare.gov marketplace. You’ll also need your bank account numbers and last year’s tax return, if you have it.
- Collect your information. Gather the names, birthdates and taxpayer numbers (Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) for you and every member of your household, including dependents.
- Don’t forget your big expenses. Gathering specific information can help you to receive a larger refund. So, consider childcare expenses (the name, address and Tax ID or Social Security number of the child care provider), business expenses (If you’re self-employed or own a small business) and college loans or scholarships received and bills for technical and community colleges (Forms 1098-T/1098-E). If you’re an educator for grades K-12, you can list school supplies and classroom materials.
In addition, charitable donations, vehicle sales tax, personal property tax, mortgage interest statements, amount of rent paid (in some states) and retirement/IRA contributions can all contribute to a larger refund.
Once you’ve filed your taxes, be sure to keep a copy of any forms you used to prepare your taxes, as well as a copy of your tax returns going back seven years. This information will make filing easier next year.
Filing taxes can be a good experience, and Orange County United Way’s OC FREE TAX PREP, you’ll be on your way to saving toward a better future.