Sense & Centsibility Blog
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Free Tax Preparation Is Available

It is tax time again, and for some people that brings a lot of anxiety about who will prepare their taxes, how much will it cost, and will they owe money? This anxiety can lead to people not filing taxes and in turn not capturing the refunds and credits that they have earned over the year.

In Minnesota, there is an effort to provide help for this anxiety in the form of information and access to free tax preparation. The “You Earned it You Claim it” campaign is bringing information about free tax preparation and the Earned Income Tax Credit to Minnesota residents. There are 250 free tax preparation sites across the state that serve families based on income and family size. Taxes are prepared at these sites by IRS-certified volunteers trained to help you maximize your refund. In addition e-file is available, and when used with direct deposit, you will get your refund quickly.

Step 1: Find your Site

You can call 1-800-543-7709 or go online to find the nearest free tax preparation location in MN and find out if you qualify for free tax prep. If you live outside of Minnesota,there may be free tax preparation available in your state. Visit the IRS website for more information.

Step 2: What to Bring

  • Identification – Bring photo ID for everyone listed on the return. Know their birth date and Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number card or letter.
  • Income -- W2s for each job, 1099 forms received, and year end income from MFIP, SSI, MSA, GA, Veterans benefits, and workers compensation
  • Education Credits & Adjustments -- Receipts for dependents’ K-12 educational expenses (including school supplies, and tutoring), tuition for university, college or technical college (1098-T form), and interest statements from all student loans (1098-E form)
  • Child Credit -- Childcare expenses: provider name, address, Tax-ID or SSN
  • Itemized deductions -- Charitable donations, medical expenses, mortgage interest statement (1098 form)
  • Additional documents -- Last year’s tax return, direct deposit information (routing number and account number)
  • Property Tax or Renter information -- Mortgage interest statement (1098 Form) statement if property tax payable in 2014, Certificate of rent paid.

Step 3 Receive your refund

Getting your tax returns prepared correctly is important. Don’t let your enthusiasm for a quick refund lead to choosing someone who lures you in with empty promises…or, worse yet, steals from you by charging excessive fees or gets you in trouble by cheating on your tax returns. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is!

If you have questions about any of this or other financial topics, or you just want to create a personalized spending plan, call LSS Financial Counseling at 888.577.2227. To get started on a budget quickly and easily, you can get all your support online now. It’s efficient and just as effective as in-person or phone financial counseling. Our Certified Financial Counselors are always here to help!

Author Ashley Hagelin is a Financial Counselor at LSS Financial Counseling. She specializes in Reverse Mortgage Counseling and Partner Relations.