The IRS is excited to provide a series of videos with tips to help deaf and hard of hearing taxpayers. This series will help you become familiar with the free tax preparation programs in American Sign Language or ASL. Today, we’ll discuss what going to a free tax preparation site involves.
Want to know how a free tax preparation site will do your taxes at absolutely no cost to you? There are two programs that do this: the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, known as VITA; and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly, known as TCE. Both train and test volunteers to do taxes using computer programs.
Okay, let’s go over how it’s done. Remember to bring all your tax statements such as W-2s and 1099s. You will also need a picture ID for you and if married, your spouse and social security cards or Individual Tax Identification Number or ITIN letters for all persons you claim on your tax return.
When you arrive at the free tax preparation site to have your taxes done, they will check your picture ID and other information.
The next step is to fill out an Intake/Interview and Quality Review Sheet. This is an intake form that captures the basic information needed to complete your taxes correctly. Don’t worry—if you need help with the form, a certified tax preparer can help you. Also, if you are not sure about a question, you can mark it as “Unsure”.
Let’s go over some of the questions you’ll answer.
Part I of the form asks for your name as shown on your social security card, your current address and phone number. It also asks if you are legally blind, totally and permanently disabled, if you are a U.S. citizen, if you are a full-time student, or a victim of identity theft. These questions are important in preparing a correct tax return for you.
Part II, Section 1, asks if you are single, married, divorced or widowed as of December 31, the same year for which you are filling out the tax form. This information will help determine your filing status on the tax return.
The second section asks you to list everyone living with you or with whom you live. This information will help determine if you are a dependent of someone, or can claim someone as a dependent. You can claim a dependent if you meet several requirements. The person working with you on your tax form will help you with this.
Next, you will fill out Part III, which asks you about the income types you received that year such as wages, interest, dividends and social security benefits. You must mark Yes, No or Unsure for each of the 15 questions in this section. Again, if you mark Unsure, the tax preparer will help you decide what the correct answer is.
In Part IV, you are asked about your expenses that may help your taxes. For example, if you paid money into a retirement account, this may lower your taxes. Be sure to answer every question so that you get every tax benefit possible.
Part V asks about Life Events. For example, if you purchased and installed energy-efficient home items such as windows and doors, you may qualify for a tax credit. Also, if you live in an area affected by a natural disaster, you may be entitled to certain tax breaks. It’s important to be as thorough as possible.
If you purchased Health Care Coverage under the Affordable Care Act or ACA, there are a few questions. However the tax preparer may ask you for more information in order to correctly report health care coverage on your tax return.
When you meet with the tax preparer, he or she will go over the form with you to make sure it is complete and give you an opportunity to ask questions. The tax preparer will then start to enter your information into a tax preparation computer program.
After completing your tax return, a second person will check if all your information is reported correctly, such as your bank account codes for direct deposit. This is great for making sure that you get the best quality service.
The final step is to print out your tax return; the tax preparer will again review it with you. It is important to know that you are ultimately responsible for the tax return having correct information. If you are satisfied the tax return is correct, you will sign a form giving the free tax preparation site permission to electronically file your tax return with the IRS.
These steps are what you can expect when you visit a VITA or TCE site to have your taxes done.
To view other IRS Tax Tips in ASL, visit www.youtube.com/irsvideosasl.
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