Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tackling Taxes

With less than two months to go before April 15, income taxes are in the back of everybody’s mind. While the Goodson Law Library staff is not able to answer substantive tax-related questions (such as “what forms do I need to file?” or help interpreting the form instructions), the Goodson Blogson is happy to point you to some sources for tax assistance.

Before you head to a professional tax preparation service, consider whether you qualify for the IRS’s FreeFile program. This service links qualifying taxpayers to free electronic federal tax preparation service (state tax preparation may also be available in some cases). Your adjusted gross income for 2009 must be $57,000 or less in order to take advantage of the FreeFile program.

You may also qualify for assistance from VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), a program in which trained volunteers assist with tax preparation for low- to moderate-income taxpayers, as well as senior citizens. Duke Law School proudly boasts a VITA chapter, and their 2010 calendar is available online.

If you don’t qualify for free assistance, or would prefer to tackle your own taxes, you might consider trying a computer program like TurboTax or H&R Block at Home. Over the weekend, the New York Times reviewed the pros and cons of these popular software programs.

If your taxes turn out to be too complicated, you may wish to hire a pro. The IRS has tips for choosing a tax professional as well as instructions for filing complaints against any bad apples out there.

Good luck—and for the perennial procrastinators, check back in late March for an entry about filing an automatic extension.