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Tax-Time Tips

  • February kicks off tax season as W2 forms start arriving in mailboxes. If you shudder at the thought of preparing your own taxes, you’re not alone. The National Taxpayer Advocate office, within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), reports that 60% of taxpayers pay someone else to prepare their returns.
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    If you’re part of that percentage, do your research before hiring someone to do your taxes. You need someone who is reliable, trustworthy and qualified.

    WalletPop.com offers these suggestions for finding the right person:
    • Go online. Search tax preparers in your area and check each one’s website for information on their qualifications. Look for signs that the preparer stays informed about the latest tax issues, like writing a tax blog or contributing to media stories about taxes.
    • Look for complaints. Check with licensing agencies or professional organizations to find out if complaints have been filed against a preparer.
    • Ask about compliance. The IRS requires all paid tax preparers to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Ask if they meet this requirement.
    • Consider the cost. Expect to pay between $200 and $500 for a federal return, but fees can vary depending on your location and the complexity of your return. If fees differ between preparers, ask why.
    • Expect good service. Does the preparer return your calls, answer your questions and advise you about which documents you should bring to your appointment? If not, find someone else.
  • Check availability. Find out the preparer’s hours and how you can reach them in the off-season if you have an issue with your return.
    Get recommendations. Ask family or friends if they can refer you to a preparer.

    If you don’t want to hire someone to do your taxes and you feel comfortable handling your taxes alone, look into online tax programs. Most walk you through your tax return step by step and only cost a small fee.

    Other tips to consider when filing your taxes this year:
    • Set up an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or contribute to your current one. You have until April 15th to make IRA contributions to count toward your 2010 Tax Return.
    • Get your refund faster by having it directly deposited into your account.
  • Do the math. If you’re getting a large refund back, don’t get too excited. It actually means you’re getting too much taken out of your paycheck throughout the year. You may need to re-evaluate your exemptions. It’s always better to break even.

    Avadian Credit Union offers several IRAs and can set you up for direct deposit. We also offer a direct link to the online program, Turbo Tax, from our website. Simply click on Links in our menu on the homepage. Visit Alabama Telco’s website, www.avadiancu.com, or call 1(888) 282-3426 to learn more.             


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