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Free tax return help is available

Volunteers will provide free income tax preparation services at the Lancaster Community Library, 16 Town Centre Dr., beginning February 15.

Sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to low- and moderate-income people with annual income below $54,000, persons with disabilities and the elderly who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns, reported site coordinator Rita Theisen.

Tax sessions will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through the regular tax-filing season. The last day volunteers will be available for free tax services is April 15, said Theisen. Because April 15 is a Saturday and the following Monday is a District of Columbia holiday, taxpayers will have until Tuesday, April 18, to file their returns.

The IRS has changed vendors for the tax program used by VITA volunteers. Because of this change, volunteers will not have access to taxpayers’ prior year returns, she said. Taxpayers should bring with them a copy of their 2015 return.

Taxpayers who expect to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on their returns should be aware that the IRS is prohibited from paying any of the refund, even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC, before February 15. Although the IRS will begin releasing EITC and ACTC refunds on that date, many early filers may not have access to their refunds until the week of February 27.

The VITA program offers free electronic filing. E-filers receive their refunds in half the time compared to returns filed on paper—even faster when tax  refunds are  deposited directly into  the e-filer’s bank account. E-filing a married-filing-jointly tax return requires that both spouses be present to sign the required authorization forms.

Taxpayers must bring with them proof of identification; social security cards and birth dates for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents; wage and earning statement Forms W-2, W-2G and 1099-R; Form 1095-A if health coverage was purchased from a state or federal marketplace; interest and dividend statements from banks and brokerage accounts (Forms 1099); bank routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit of refunds; and, for dependent care credit, amounts  paid for  daycare and the daycare  provider’s  tax identifying number.

Rappahannock Record Staff
Rappahannock Record Staff
From the Rappahannock Record news team

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