Preparing for Tax Season 2017
Tammy G. Bruzon works for America Saves, managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. Learn more at AmericaSaves.org.
Opt out of a tax time splurge and use your tax refund to get ahead. Here are some tips to make the
most of your tax time preparations:
1. File a tax return, even if you do not owe any tax or are not required to file. You can’t get the EITC unless you file a return. End of story. Since the IRS estimates that about 25
percent of taxpayers who are eligible for the EITC fail to claim it, this is a vital first step in determining your eligibility.
2. Decide where and how you will file your taxes and know your free options. Unless you know your return is going to be complicated this year, paying someone to file a tax
return should always be a last resort. Decide whether you’d rather file online or in person, and then check out these free filing options:
Visit a free tax preparation site – If your total household income is less than $54,000 a year, you can seek free tax prep at one of thousands of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Military Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (M-VITA), and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites. To locate the nearest site, you can search online or call the IRS at 800-906-9887.
3. Make a plan for your tax refund that accounts for the EITC/ACTC delay. We know it can be hard to come up with alternative funds if you already had plans for your
refund early in the year, but don’t be suckered by refund anticipation products provided by many commercial tax return preparers. The loan fees will have you seeing red.