Tax professionals can help

March 31, 2012 Latest Print Print
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Tax deadlines are approaching, and students may find the prospect of doing taxes a daunting task.

Some tax professionals say it’s best to leave tax filing to them, because of the possibility of over- or underpaying due to errors.

H&R Block district manager Goldie West said when searching for a tax professional, make sure to be exacting.

“Look at their records to see how long they have been doing it, and see what their education is like,” West said.

“Make sure that they are certified with the IRS.”

Tax professionals can use a 1098-T form to find out if students qualify for credits, like education credits and the American Opportunity Credit.

 

According to the IRS website, the American Opportunity Credit is available to students who have not completed four years of post-secondary education and have an adjusted gross income of $80,000 or less, or $160,000 or less for married couples who are filing a joint return.

Before a return can be claimed, any taxes owed must be paid, West said.

“It is important to file taxes on time, even if the taxes cannot actually be paid,” she said.

“The penalty for filing late is 5 percent of the due tax, while the penalty for not paying the taxes you filed on time is only .5 percent.”

Accounting professor Tamala Zolicoffer said it is possible to file for a tax extension for those not able to file prior to April 15.

Zolicoffer said a tax extension is valid until Oct. 15.

Those who are late on filing taxes should file as soon as possible to avoid further penalties, and should file taxes if they receive any kind of income, she said.

West said extensions are not a way out of paying taxes.

“Extensions only increase the deadline for filing, but you still have to pay on time,” she said.

For more information on filing taxes, deadlines or how to file an extension visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov.

To contact Robert Bolton, email communitywriter@occc.edu.

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