Tax Season is upon us…

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to gather your financial documents and begin filing your taxes. The deadline to file your taxes is April 15, 2014. The penalty for filing taxes late is severe. So,no matter what the situation is, file your taxes by the deadline. If you do owe money to the IRS, it is also very important to pay on time to avoid expensive fees and interest on the money you owe.While it is best to pay the taxes you owe in full and on time, there are times when all you need is to get your next paycheck or wait a few weeks until the money is available. If you filed your taxes on time, the IRS will send you a letter in the mail stating how much you owe plus any additional interest.You can file your taxes one of three ways:

  • Through professional businesses who employ tax specialists to help with the process (a list of accredited businesses can be found atwww.irs.gov.
  • You can file online (http://www.irs.gov/Filing)
  • You can mail your completed documents to the Internal Revenue Service (Correct forms are available at www.irs.gov ).

Before filing, your employer will give you a “W-2” form, which tells you how much money you earned in 2013and how much you paid in taxes. It is important to make sure you receive a W-2 form from each of the employers you worked for in 2013. Use the information provided on the W-2 when filing your taxes. In addition, if you received government assistance, like unemployment or disability insurance in 2013, you will need to include the amount you were given on your tax forms. If this situation applies to you,you will receive financial information in the mail from the State of California.Each person’s tax situation is different, so in order to make sure you have included all of the appropriate financial information or documents,it is best to seek out advice from trusted organizations, like the Internal Revenue Service or their volunteer programs.

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

The VITA Program provides free tax help to people who make $52,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities. They can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify such as EITC.The VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers,libraries, churches, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations.To find a site near you, you may call:1-800-906-9887 (Spanish and English options available).

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)

The TCE Program offers free tax help for all, with priority assistance to people who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions and issues that are unique to seniors.Tax return preparation assistance is provided to elderly taxpayers during the normal period for filing Federal income tax returns, which is from January 1 to April 15 each year. However, the program activities required to make sure elderly taxpayers receive efficient and quality tax assistance can be conducted year round. To find a TCE center near you,call 1-888-227-7669 (Spanish and English options available).

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

Low to moderate income filers maybe eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. This credit can reduce the amount you owe in taxes, and it may also give you a larger refund. If you need help finding out if you qualify for the EITC, or for other tax-related questions, contact the IRS.For more information about filing your 2013 tax return visit www.irs.gov(English and Spanish language available) or call 1-800-829-1040(Spanish and English options available)Monday through Friday from 7am to7pm.