Saturday, June 13, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
We could not help several taxpayers because their returns were out of scope. One of them was for Option Exercise income, a second with a large 1099-Misc income, and a third without a W-2, but only a final paystub. We also distributed tax forms, including some that were not commonly used and had to be printed off from a tax forms database.
One special service we provided was explaining why it was important to file the return before the deadline, and the different options for making payments. It appeared that the lowest cost option was requesting a short term textnsion of time to pay.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Since it is a weekday, we do not have the full strength of available volunteers. To get returns completed and on their way by midnight April 15, 2009, we will focus on preparing extensions and simple returns, and printing off needed tax forms. We will also be able to provide tax forms as needed.
The complexity of returns processed will be limited. Returns with W-2, Social Security Income, 1099-INT and 1099-DIV will be prepared. Returns with 1099-MISC, Schedule C-EZ, Schedule C, Schedule D, and Schedule E will not be prepared. Others may be prepared as time and volunteer availability permits.
Priorities will be to file extensions, simple returns, tax forms, answering questions, and more complex returns in that order. Service times are 5:00 - 8:30 pm as announced in the Milpitas Post of April 9, 2009. (Note that the time of 3:00 - 8:00 pm shown in the San Jose Mercury News announcement is not correct)
While we are glad to file extensions for you, we will not be able to complete your returns at a later date at this site. As in the past years, there will be sites open in Santa Clara County after the season ends, beginning in mid May, to help you get your returns completed. Dates, times and places will be announced on http://www.vita-volunteers.org/ and related blogs.
Monday, April 13, 2009
IRS /ledia Reb Offn www.irs.gov OS News Release Oakland, CA Contact: Jesse Weller newsroom April 1-0, 2009 www .IRS.uo\ Tel. 510-637-2800 Release No: SF-09-23 There's Still Time to Get Free Tax Help in Your Community Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly sites in your community can prepare and file your return electronically. You can receive your refund in as few as 10 days using e-file and direct deposit. VITA and TCE programs. Many sites will be open this weekend and through the April 15 income tax filing deadline. Trained volunteers help ensure people get the tax credits and deductions they are eligible to claim. If you made $42,000 or less last year, there is still time to get free help filing your federal income tax return. Community organizations sponsor tax preparation sites where people can receive free tax assistance as part of the "We expect that more people qualify for free help and possibly larger refunds because they earned less last year. They may now qualify for tax credits that they did not get in the past," said IRS spokesman Jesse Weller. Lost jobs or reduced income mean that many people may be eligible for certain lax credits for the first time. For example, the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit is for people who work but who do not earn a lot of money. The EITC adds an extra S2,000 benefit on average. The additional child tax credit and the first-time homebuyer credit are important benefits also affected by a taxpayer's income. Don't miss out on this free service and your chance for a quicker refund. The following IRS community-based partner sites are ready to help people file their tax returns in San Francisco, Oaldand, San Jose and Milpitas • • San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Ave, Science Building, Room SCI 2055 San Francisco. Open Saturday April 11, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm; and Monday - Wednesday April 13-15, 12:30 pm - 6 pm. The Unity Council, 1900 Fruitvale Ave # 2B, Oakland. Open Monday - Wednesday April 13-15, Lundy Post Office, 1750 Lundy Ave, San Jose. Open for "Midnight Madness" on Wednesday April 15, from 10 am -12 pm and 2 pm - 6 pm. • • Milpitas Public Library, 160 N. Main St, Milpitas. Open Saturday, April 11, from 10 am - 2 pm and on Wednesday, April 15, from 3 pm - 8 pm. 6 pm - midnight. People who want their tax returns prepared should bring the following information: • Valid driver's license or photo identification (self & spouse, if applicable) • • Social Security cards for all persons listed on the return • All income statements: Fonns W-2, 1099, Social Security, Unemployment, or other benefits statements, selfemployment records and any documents showing taxes withheld Dependent child care information: payee's name, address and Social Security Number or Taxpayer Dates of birth for all persons listed on the return • • • © Proof of financial account for direct debit or direct deposit (i.e. cancelled/voided check or bank statement) Prior year tax return (if available) Any other pertinent documents or papers Identification Number For those who are not able to make a trip, the IRS also offers other free tax preparation options as part of the Free File program on the official IRS.gov Web site. IRS.gov is also the best place to go for answers, access to forms and publications and other free services. — 30 —
To the best of the knowledge of the Site Coordinator in charge of the site and responsibile for helping out taxpayers, the plan is to open from 5pm - 8:30 pm. If you come in expecting to be helped at 3:00 pm, you may have a long wait in front of you.
In the event we are overwhelmed by the demand, in addition to the priority of extensions, simple returns, questions and forms, priority will be given to taxpayers with a Milpitas address.
San Jose IRS to provide curb side service for last-minute filers
Mercury News staff
Posted: 04/12/2009 08:30:56 PM PDT
Updated: 04/12/2009 09:01:55 PM PDT
The IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in San Jose will provide special "curbside" forms service for last-minute filers during the remaining days of the tax-filing season. The extra service will help people traveling by car get basic tax forms faster, without paying for parking or waiting in line.
The office is located at 55 South Market St. IRS employees will hand out basic tax forms, including extension requests, to drive-up customers at the loading zone at the back of the building. The loading zone is accessed from San Pedro Street; the nearest cross street is Post Street.
The service will be available on the following days and times:
Today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tuesday from 11 to 4 p.m.
Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Free tax help also is available at the following IRS community-based partner sites:
Milpitas Public Library, 160 N. Main St. Milpitas. Open Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Lundy Post Office, 1750 Lundy Ave., San Jose. Open for "Midnight Madness" on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to midnight.
Original link at: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_12129689
Home -> Breaking News
There's still time to get free tax help in your community
Posted:04/10/2009 6:26 PM
By the Mercury News
If you made $42,000 or less last year, there is still time to get free help filing your federal income tax return. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly sites in your community can prepare and file your return electronically. You can receive your refund in as few as 10 days using e-file and direct deposit.
Community organizations sponsor tax preparation sites where people can receive free tax assistance as part of the VITA and TCE programs. Many sites will be open this weekend and through the April 15 income tax filing deadline. Trained volunteers help ensure people get the tax credits and deductions they are eligible to claim.
Lost jobs or reduced income mean that many people may be eligible for certain tax credits for the first time. For example, the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit is for people who work but who do not earn a lot of money. The EITC adds an extra $2,000 benefit on average. The additional child tax credit and the first-time homebuyer credit are important benefits also affected by a taxpayer's income.
The following IRS community—based partner sites are ready to help people file their tax returns.
Milpitas Public Library, 160 N. Main St., Milpitas. Open Saturday,from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Wednesday, April 15, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Lundy Post Office, 1750 Lundy Ave, San Jose. Open for "Midnight Madness" on Wednesday April 15, from 6 p.m. to midnight.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Taxpayers who had tough questions for and about the IRS had the opportunity to get the official answers from a real IRS employee, and it provided the site coordinator with an additional resource to deal with the multitude of questions that come up from taxpayers every week.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
A one-time Economic Recovery Payment of will be made in 2009. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO FILE A TAX RETURN TO GET YOUR ECONOMIC RECOVERY PAYMENT. Ñ Ifyouarearetiree,disabledindividualora SupplementalSecurityIncome(SSI)recipient,youwill receiveyourEconomicRecoveryPaymentdirectlyfrom theSocialSecurityAdministration. Ñ Ifyoureceivedisabledveteransbenefits,youwill receiveyourEconomicRecoveryPaymentfromthe DepartmentofVeteransAffairs. Ñ IfyoureceiveRailroadRetirementbenefits,youwill receiveyourEconomicRecoveryPaymentfromthe RailroadRetirementBoard. $250 Contacttheagencythatpaysyour benefitformoreinformation. IRS Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service www.irs.gov Publication 4751 (3-2009) Catalog Number 52943A
City of Milpitas Vice-Mayor Pete "Primo" McHugh was the guest of honor and was kind enough to declare the filing session open at VITA at MILPITAS PUBLIC LIBRARY on the morning of Saturday February 7, 2009. Vice-Mayor McHugh expressed his appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the volunteers who were there to help people prepare and e-file their tax returns.
Friday, March 6, 2009
When we get a replacement TaxWise Desktop it comes loaded with several pieces of software, including Adobe 8.xx, TaxWise 2007, and Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Internet Explorer 6.xx
To use it for preparing 2008 returns, the minimum required istallation is TaxWise 2008
together with the latest updates for federal and states and help files.
However, to simplify life with a systematic preparation process for the long run, we found the following to be a reasonable set of things to do:
- Connect laptop by a network cable to a LAN or other network with internet access
- Go to Microsoft Windows update and get the latest updates and patches. If you get errors, read the error message carefully and enable and restart the needed services as recommended, and then let it run. This will take a while, because it will download Service Pack 3 (which is big) and you better have a high speed conection, and then run through and install it.
- If you are used to Internet Explorer 7.xx, go ahead and upgrade that too.
- Install Abode 9.0 from the TaxWise installation disk. You might as well do it now rather than go through the error message telling you to do it later.
- Install TaxWise from the TaxWise CD
- Download the latest updates for federal, state, TaxWise help, and 1040 help
- Start TaxWise and go through the installation process.
- Optionally remove TaxWise 2007. While this is not required or necessary, we have found doing so avoids problems of volunteers accidentally starting a return on TaxWise 2007, wondering why it looks different, and subsequently learning that they used the wrong version of TaxWise. If you subsequently need TaxWise 2007, it can be installed from the TaxWise program disk.
However, a simple way is to look at all the IRS acknowledgements reports at once. When you select the option with all the reports, TaxWise creates a report with a summary of all the returns accepted and rejected during the period of the reports, and then prints the errors (most of the time) and details on the subsequent pages. The report can be saved to a pdf or Excel xls file, or physically printed out on a printer.
That would also be a good way to obtain help from the Relationship manager if you can't resolve any problems on your own, and will let you check that your records on the number of returns agree with the UTS summary records that the IRS gets.
Any additional thoughts on the matter?
What to do? When we looked up the IRS accept acknowledgements, it showed acceptance of the full amount, and the difference $300 looked suspiciously like it might be due to the Recovery Rebate.
We do know that error 269 initially was due to the recovery rebate computed within the tax return by TaxWise being different from what the IRS thought it should be, so thought it may be something else.
Taxpayer could not think what else the problem might be due to.
One way to resolve this with minimum effort is......... (believe me, it is really simple)
Please post your ideas on how you would handle this situation....
Just to be sure we were doing things by the book, I searched for help using the TaxWise Desktop Help system.
Imagine the surprise that on searching for topics related to deceased, I came across an item that described in great detail that it was necessary to file two returns that year. One for both spouses MFJ from the beginning of the year till date of death, and the other for the surviving taxpayer from date of death of spouse to the end of the year.
Astounded that I had never heard of such a thing before, I searched the web, and consulted the TaxWise Customer Support Line. The Customer Service Rep had never heard of that either - we all knew that we needed to file MFJ for the year of death with possibly QW in succeeding years, and here I was staring at something that seemed to run against everything I had learnt so far.
Well, on taking another look at the section of the help, I noticed Puerto Rico; so this appears to apply to Puerto Rico returns only, I went away wondering why I ended up on that page, and whether there have been other occasions on which we may have gotten irrelevcant instructions simply because of the excess information present that did not apply to us.
TaxWise Customer Service Rep was kind enough to walk me through the steps of correctly filling out the form. It turns out an additional piece of required information is the date of the death itself to be entered into a certain box on the MAIN INFO sheet, but unfortunately, after developing form blindness, it is easy to overlook that box.
The moral of the story? When something seems different from what you think you know about the situation, check that the instructions relate to you.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Without access to a permanent LAN, we set up temporary networks each week. In the early years, we used after-market network adapters and routers/hub/switches connected together with network cables which tended to fall off, had bad connectors, and provided great opportunities for disasters waiting to happen in the form of tripping up our hardworking volunteers.
The performance was poor, with long waits while the software was loading or interacting with the TaxWise server Database, and there were cases when most of the work done on a return was lost. To be mobile and portable, we put the TaxWise Server on a Windows XP Pro laptop upgraded to run Windows Server 2003.
We installed TaxWise on a partitioned volume labeled the N-Drive. This drive was shared and mapped to the N: drive of the other workstations, we appeared to have a system that ran flawlessly. One hour into the first session, we ran into all kinds of problems. TaxWise was throwing exceptions, workstations were connected to the network but could not access the mapped N: drive even though they could access the web site on the server. Given that we were using an unsupported configuration (namely secured wireless networking), there wasn't much we could get in the way of technical support.
It is not clear what the problem was: it could have been TaxWise, or interference, or we may have had reached the limit of the number of active connections on our server. The bottom line was that there were impatient taxpayers and volunteer tax preparers who kept asking when the system would be up and running again. The temporary solution was to reinstall TaxWise on the default C: drive of each of the workstations, and prepare the returns the conventional way, using a usb flash drive to transfer the data.
We haven't figured out the root cause of the problem yet, but realized tht the solution as it stood was not workable.
We are working on an alternative solution.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
The reports generated on our TaxWise Desktop Transmitting computer indicated 76 accepted.
So how can we determine exactly how many reports were accepted, and reconcile the difference? The answer is that it is almost impossible to do so, unless you have a suspicion because of other reasons that point to the additional accepted returns.
The SPEC Relationship manager, even with the suspect TIN could not obtain information about the return status. Customer support at TaxWise stated that the return had been accepted, and then "re-hanged" the return a couple of times to update the TaxWise database on outtransmitting computer. Did not work. The acknowledgement summary return showed the return was rejected, but provided no details. The Taxwise online tool to check return status provided no clarification either, and in fact stated it was broken for this return.
Thanks to the help and guidance of a fellow Site Coordinator we figured out the return status to our satisfaction. Telling the taxpayer that the return was accepted when the confirmation report says rejected because Customer Support said so did not seem very professional.
It turns out there is a very simple way to verify the accept/reject status of a return that did not require all the inconvenience we went through. That will be left as a discussion/comment point for the reader.
We thought that there was a magical touch since one of our volunteers did not have a problem, but other volunteers could not get it to work.
Our IT staff did everything we could could to clean out the temp directory, getting rid of temporary files, and running the defragmanter to defragment the file system.
Then we started up task manager ato look at the processes, and commit memory charge was approximately 260 Mb without any applications running. We looked at the physical memory and it was 256 Mb.
On looking through the TaxWise support site we found that the minimum required system configuration was 256 Mb for TaxWise 2007 and 512 Mb for a recommended system.
Taxwise Customer support site Knowledge Base says that for TaxWise 2007,
Minimum System Requirements for TaxWise Products:
800 MHz processor
Windows XP Professional or Windows 2000 Professional (Service Pack 4)
256 MB of RAM
1 GB of available hard drive space
8X speed CD-ROM
800 X 600 color monitor with 16-bit color video card
56K Internet connection (Internet access required)
100% HP compatible printer
Internet Explorer 6.0
Volunteer e-File Administrator Guide Publication 1384 for Tax Year 2008 shows the requirements for TaxWise for "FY2009 Recommended Minimum Operating System Requirements for use of TaxWise" to be 128 Mb or Ram for both Taxwise Desktop Version and TaxWis Online Version.
From Microsoft's support website:
Windows XP Professional System Requirements
Published: August 24, 2001
Get Windows XP Professional on a New Computer
Order from one of several computer manufacturers.
Here's What You Need to Use Windows XP Professional
• PC with 300 megahertz or higher processor clock speed recommended; 233 MHz minimum required (single or dual processor system);* Intel Pentium/Celeron family, or AMD K6/Athlon/Duron family, or compatible processor recommended
• 128 megabytes (MB) of RAM or higher recommended (64 MB minimum supported; may limit performance and some features)
• 1.5 gigabytes (GB) of available hard disk space*
• Super VGA (800 x 600) or higher-resolution video adapter and monitor
• CD-ROM or DVD drive
• Keyboard and Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device
Minimum System Requirements for TaxWise Products for Tax Year 2008
Microsoft® Windows XP (with the latest service pack) or Microsoft® Windows Vista (32-bit operating systems only)
800 MHz processor
512 MB of RAM
1 GB of available hard drive space (per tax year)
8X speed CD-ROM
800 X 600 color monitor with 16-bit color video card
Microsoft® Internet Explorer 7.0 (with the latest service pack)
56K Internet connection (Internet access required)
PCL6 compatible printer
Ethernet network card (required for network installations only)
Adobe Reader (version 8.1 or higher)
No wonder we were having performance problems; fortunately, an email to the IRS Depot brought a quick telephone response from the technician in charge of testing and loading up the software, who agreed to send out a replacement laptop with 512 Mb of Ram right away.
She told me something that all of us should take to heart - which is, when you send back a laptop, put a note with the laptop indicating what you thought the problem was, so they could troubleshoot it quickly. Despite the email systems, ticket numbers and all the forms filled up, that information does not seem to get to the technician actually doing the job.
I also learned that laptops came from many sources, including those that revenue officers had used before, and after loading, was tested to make sure it was working. From the time they left the depot to the time they reached the site, there seemed to be lots of mishaps.
Of 4 IRS provided laptops for the 2008 Tax Season, 3 of them were returned for replacements. The above was the reason for one of them. The other two needed to be returned because one had seen so much use that the keys were worn out, and unusable by hunt and peck typists and a battery that would not hold a charge; another one was returned because when turned on it could not find a system file and continue booting up.
It appears that because of the economy problems, IT and computer equipment budgets have been cut, and the depot is doing its best to refurbish and send out laptops as needed.
This may suggest that rather than asking for additional software to be imaged on IRS Depot Laptops, perhaps we should be looking for loaded software to be reduced.