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Preparing for the tax man

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Kyle Bursaw – kbursaw@shawmedia.com)
John Saponari, the franchise general manager at Jackson Hewitt in DeKalb, finishes up tax returns thursday for clients Maria and Jose Secena on Thursday.

DeKALB – Whether a person is filing their own taxes or having them prepared by a professional, Bernie Boona recommended having all of the necessary paperwork on hand.

“It’s easier to file when you have everything,” said Boona, the owner of Accounting For Your Success, 1958 Aberdeen Court, Suite 2, in Sycamore. “You can’t do part of your return and then come back and finish it later.”

That paperwork can include any forms or letters from a person’s employer or college, or from the Internal Revenue Service. Anything that might be necessary, he said, also recommending having last year’s income tax bill on hand.

Outside of minor changes in deduction and credit amounts and a rule change in the Earned Income Tax Credit, very little has changed in this year’s tax code, local experts said. The only thing that’s frustrating local agencies is the IRS delaying the release of certain forms.

Starting Wednesday, the vast majority of Americans will be able to file their tax returns.

The reason for the delay came from the last-minute negotiations over the “fiscal cliff” – a series of tax increases and spending cuts that were set to occur at the start of 2013 – the IRS had to update its forms and software before it could begin accepting returns.

The delay has been a problem for local tax preparers such as C.L. Albertson, the owner of Lalley Accounting Service, 231 S. Second St., Suite 1, in DeKalb. Albertson said he wasn’t able to download forms from the IRS website until a few days ago.

“I’m expecting a lot more extensions this year than in previous years,” Albertson said.

Boona said there will still be a number forms unavailable to some individuals and businesses. Those who are looking to claim residential energy credits, depreciation of property or general business credits will have to wait.

“It’s true for the majority of taxpayers,” Boona said of Wednesday’s filing time.

Both Albertson and Boona said the IRS is being more stringent in checking information from filers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The Earned Income Tax Credit is given to individuals or married couples depending on how many dependent children they have. For instance, a family with three or more children with income of less than $50,270 a year can earn a credit up $5,891.

“For people who have very low incomes, that could be a substantial amount of money,” Albertson said.

For the Earned Income Tax Credit, the person’s name on the tax return must match the name associated with their Social Security number, Boona said. Otherwise, the IRS will reject it.

Boona said normally the IRS had a schedule for when a person would see a tax refund. This year, the IRS has announced tax filers will receive their tax refunds within 21 days of filing.

This year might be a relatively static year when it comes to tax code changes, but that will change in the future. Boona said people will see changes when they begin filing their 2013 taxes in ‘14, and by ‘15, the IRS should have issued rules on the Affordable Care Act that could affect a filers’ tax credits and rates.

A number of tax deductions were raised because of inflation, The Associated Press reported. A married couple filing a joint return can receive a standard deduction of $11,900. For singles and married individuals filing separate returns, the standard deduction is $5,950. For the heads of households, the deduction is $8,700.

A DeKalb County resident has many different options for tax preparation, ranging from local firms to software programs like TurboTax.

On Friday, Goodwill Northern Illinois announced the opening of several Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites for this tax season, which will be active from now until April 13. Income restrictions apply at certain sites. All tax preparation services are free. For more information on these VITA sites, go to goodwillni.org.

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