Make Ends Meet: Filing taxes quickly & correctly

Make Ends Meet: Filing your taxes quickly & correctly

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The IRS has been accepting 2019 tax returns since January 27, 2020. If you're not going to file your return right away, just make sure you beat the April 15 deadline.

Your taxes are taken very seriously. As a matter of fact, when Al Capone was sent to prison in 1931, it wasn't because they could prove he had killed 300 to 500 people. The Federal government tried and convicted Capone of income tax evasion. Capone was sentenced to eleven years in federal prison, fined $50,000, levied $7,692 in court cost and charged more than $200,000 interest on back taxes.

His story is just more proof you must pay your taxes.

One of the most well-known quotes from Benjamin Franklin states, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could affect how much tax someone should have their employer withhold from their paycheck. Having too little tax withheld can mean an unexpected tax bill or potentially a penalty at tax time. Some taxpayers might prefer to have less tax withheld up front and receive more in their paychecks.

“We want everybody to do a paycheck checkup,” Luis Garcia from the IRS stressed to WAVE 3 News. “If you go to IRS.gov you click on paycheck checkup or just the withholding calculator. Figure out the right amount you want withheld.”

If you are in the gig economy like an Uber driver or a part-time musician, for example, then you are an independent contractor or freelancer.

“That can bump you up into the owing column unexpectedly,” proclaims Garcia. “You have to pay self-employment taxes.”

You can file for an Automatic Extension of Time if you cannot file your Individual Income Tax Return by the deadline.

“That's an extension of time to file, not time to pay,” Garcia stressed. “So, if you owe, you owe on April 15th.”

If you need help filing your taxes, most can get help at no cost, and there are several options.

“You can call Kentucky’s 2-1-1,” shared Garcia. “They will connect you with a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance location probably down the street from you.”

That's Metro United Way's Community Resource Database. 2-1-1 helps connect you to community resources statewide in Kentucky and Indiana.

“If you are over 65 years old, there's tax counseling for the elderly,” explained Garcia.

Preparers from the Metro United Way’s community database have been vetted by the IRS. They’re also using ITS approved software.

If you enlist the help of a paid professional to prepare your 2019 return, do your homework first to know who they are and where they come from.

“Make sure that you’re dealing with somebody that is established in the community,” Garcia stresses. “Someone who is going to be there after the 15th of April. Make sure you review everything because they’re your taxes, doesn’t matter who did them.”

You are responsible for your taxes whether they are completed wrong or right.

“You sign it,” Garcia proclaimed. “You own it. Be careful. Make sure there is someone who is signing that return with you.”

Also, check a tax preparer's background before you pay and before you allow them to file for you. You can find the Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) for anyone that does taxes.

“Tax professionals who prepare taxes for somebody for money are required to be registered with the IRS,” Garcia proclaimed. “Go to IRS.gov and we have a preparer database.”

Once your taxes are prepared and you are ready to file, the way you file can determine how quickly you receive your money if you get a refund.

“File electronically,” Garcia stressed. “Ask for direct deposit. You’re going to get your money in 21 days or less. If you do paper return longhand, you mail it in and you ask for a paper check, you’re looking at six to eight weeks.”

The IRS updates its database every 24 hours. You only need to check the database once a day to track your refund.

Tracking your refund several times a day will not change the information on the site or make it come any quicker.

Garcia also warns of scams using the IRS name. Scams happen all year long, every day of the year and not just at tax time.

Here is a list of things the IRS will never do:

- The IRS never calls you initially. They may call after sending a notice via certified mail.

- The IRS never demands immediate payment and all tax bills from, then IRS are mailed.

- The IRS never requires specific payment methods like a debit card or gift card of any kind.

- The IRS never asks for credit card numbers or debit card numbers over the phone.

- The IRS will never ask for any sensitive information over the phone.

- The IRS will never threaten to call police or law enforcement groups to arrest you for not paying.

For more information and help with your taxes visit these links:

- IRS: Free tax help with my return

- IRS: Free tax return preparation for you by volunteers

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