Thursday, April 8, 2010

Last Minute Tax Help on April 15, 2010

Low-income, limited English speaking, elderly and disabled taxpayers will have the opportunity to get help in filing their tax returns at VITA at MILPITAS PUBLIC LIBRARY on April 15, 2010.

IRS-Certified VITA Volunteer Tax Preparers will be on hand to help you prepare and file your income tax returns.

If your return is postmarked or electronically transmitted by Midnight on the night of April 15, 2010, the return is considered to be filed in a timely fashion.

If you are unable to file by that time because of missing information, we can help you get an automatic 6-month extension to file your return, but since the official season is over, there is no guarantee that we will be able to file your return later.

If you owe taxes to the IRS and the California FTB, payment must be made by April 15, 2010 to avoid any interest or late payment penalties, so making an estimated payment of the amount owing with the extension will be helpful in avoiding interest due or penalties for late filing.

Making a payment and filing a return are 2 different things. You can file the return separately from making the payment or together if you wish. This means that even if you owe money and cannot pay immediately, it is still a good idea to file the return and then make arrangements for payment after April 15.

Please note that this service is for people who are unable to prepare their returns. High income taxpayers are advised to take their returns to a paid preparer or use one of the other methods of free filing if you wish. That information is available on the internet, and we will not be able to help you to obtain that.

VITA requirements dictate that we not file returns with Schedule C, rental income, Capital Gain and loss on sale of stocks, and partnership K-1 statements. In addition, we are unable to file for Married Filing Separate returns. We will not prepare Schedule C, Schedule D or Schedule E, but we can help with Schedule A and B so long as they are within scope.

Please be sure to have your picture id and Social Security Card with you, in addition to all W-2s, 1099 forms, and statements for any taxes you have paid. Also, please make sure that the paperwork is correct. We expect large crowds, and will help people who are ready with all their information rather than those who do not bring their complete records.

If you were paid a salary, please bring the W-2s issued by your employer. We cannot and will not work with pay stubs, and will not engage in any discussion about why we should or should not do that.

We will attempt to electronically transmit all returns prepared before the library closes at 9:00 pm. If we cannot complete your return by then, we will just not be able to file it, but can direct you to the forms and information that is within the library.

The volunteers are unpaid, and willing to provide this service out of the kindness of their hearts. They are not CPAs, accountants or Enrolled Agents, and they are not IRS employees so please do not expect them to answer your complicated questions, check whether you know how to fill your forms or follow instructions or your ability to do arithmetic. They do not make the tax rules, and since the important measure is how many returns are filed electronically, we will attempt to do the simplest and most straightforward returns first, then followed by first come first served. If you want to argue about the unfairness of this rule, you will be told to leave. We do not need any further disruption in addition to the existing chaos and tensions that typically exist on the last day of the filing season.

Although volunteers have other things that keep them busy during the day, most have committed to coming at 6:00 pm. If more volunteers who can make it before that time, we may start earlier. The sign-up list will be available at 5:00 pm or earlier, and we will go down the list in that order. Please make sure that your name is legible and remember the your number. Signing up and then disappearing will not preserve your place in the list. If you do not respond when your name is called, we will not wait for you or hold your place. If you respond and are waiting for someone else, you will be put at the back of the list. If you need to step out for a short bathroom break, please let the person in charge know.

The taxpayer MUST be present. If there is a person there to help translate, that is fine, but we will not permit the whole family to sit around asking and answering questions. In the case of Married Filing Joint, both must be there to sign the authorization to efile.

The primary service provided is the electronic filing of returns. If you have any income at all, we will be glad to file your return for you. We will not determine whether or not you need to file, we will not answer any general or hypothetical questions you may have, and we will not debate the fairness or unfairneass of the tax laws. We will ask the questions to file your return, and will only answer your questions if they relate to the tax return we are preparing.