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Avoiding problems when paying taxes
The time and energy spent filling out paperwork can make tax time stressful. Depending on how you file, tax time can also be expensive. If you have questions about filing your taxes, consider our time and money-saving tips.
Q: How do I file my taxes?
The easiest and fastest way to file your taxes is through the IRS website. The site links to many companies that will efile your federal tax return for free. Some of these services require payment for filing state taxes.
Q. Can I get free help to file my taxes?
Yes! If you made $57,000 or less, you may use one of the free efile services available through the IRS website. Many states support free efiling through the state's department of revenue website.
The IRS also sponsors free tax preparation services through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Call 1-800-906-9887 to find a VITA site near you, and make sure your tax preparer is accredited by the IRS or your state department of revenue.
Q. If I make more than $57,000, can I file for free?
Yes. Search online for "free tax preparation" to find Internet-based and volunteer services.
Q. If I pay someone to do my taxes, what should I watch out for?
You could be dealing with an unscrupulous return preparer if they:
- Do not sign or do not include their Preparer Tax Identification Number on your return.
- Do not give you a copy of your tax return.
- Promise a larger than normal tax refund.
- Charge a percentage of the refund amount as a preparation fee (there should be a flat fee).
- Add forms to the return you have never filed before.
- Encourage you to place false information on your return, such as false income, expenses and/or credits.
Q. What are the “instant” tax rebates I see offered?
In reality, there is no way to immediately receive your refund from the IRS. "Instant" refunds offered by some tax services are often Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs). Although they may seem appealing, RALs have large fees and interest rates of up to 37%. Advertisements for RALs must accurately list all associated costs and services charges, as well as the charges for tax preparation and electronic filing.
Q. What is the fastest way to get my tax refund?
Select direct deposit when you efile online. You can track the status of your tax return on the IRS website.
Q. I received an email from the IRS, asking for personal information. Is it real?
No; the IRS does not initiate email correspondence with taxpayers. Identity thieves often send official-looking, fake emails informing recipients that they must click on a link that takes them to a website asking for their personal information. All such requests are phishing scams. Report suspected phishing to the IRS.
Q. How can I avoid an identity theft tax scam?
There are several warning signs:
- Beware email attachments, because legitimate tax companies will rarely ask you to open one.
- Emails that mention a tax refund or threaten an audit are often fraudulent attempts to obtain your personal information.
- Misspellings, incorrect use of official names, poor grammar, and odd phrasing are indications that a communication is fraudulent.
- Taxpayers should ignore unsolicited communications asking for personal and/or financial information, e.g. your name, Social Security Number, bank account number, or credit card number.
Q. How do I know if I am a victim of identity theft?
If multiple tax returns have been filed in your name or the IRS believes you were paid by an employer whom you aren’t familiar with, someone may have used your personal information to submit false tax returns.
Q. What should I do if I think my identity has been stolen?
Immediately contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit. For more information, visit www.IRS.gov/identitytheft or call 1-800-908-4490.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a full recall Wednesday of all ranitidine, a heartburn medication known by the brand name Zantac.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton did not join in the call to the country’s top online marketplaces to crack down on price gouging amidst the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. A bipartisan group of 33 attorneys general, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro along with co-leading Attorneys General Hector Balderas (NM), William Tong (CT), and T.J. Donovan (VT), sent a letter today urging the companies -- Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Walmart -- to quickly implement preventative measures on their platforms to ensure that consumers don’t get taken advantage of during this public health crisis.
As the second week of spring break begins, I wanted to update the student resources I sent last week and give you some ways to help others during this unprecedented moment.
As you know, on March 30th, all classes will resume online and students who live on campus are asked to move out throughout this week.
Here are a few resources to turn to if you need them:
The spread of coronavirus across the country is a serious threat to our health and financial security. We here at TexPIRG are working from home and wishing everyone health, calm, and plenty of hand-washing.
During this time, we must ensure that consumers are protected from those who would take advantage of the pandemic situation and that everyone has access to what they need to stay healthy and prevent the spread of this disease.
The changes occurring to our daily lives and the whole country is overwhelming. We’ll get through it by working together, so we wanted to offer some information on what TexPIRG is working on.
As we enter spring break, I wanted to share some important resources as our campuses transition to online classes.
This change to our daily lives - and the whole country - may feel overwhelming. We’ll get through it together and so we wanted to offer some information for students who may be especially struggling to adjust to this major transition.
As you are most likely aware, UT Austin has extended it’s spring break an additional week and will resume classes on March 30th.
TexPIRG is happy to provide the following resources for students during this time.
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