Yes, it’s that time of year again: Tax filing season. Anyone who had earned and even some unearned income last year will need to file a 2007 income tax return, or as the IRS calls it, a 1040.
Unfortunately, there are professional tax preparation companies that take advantage of low-income citizens. Many low-income taxpayers are so eager to get their returns that they turn to "refund anticipation loans," pay stub prep, and new this year, prepaid credit cards, so that they do not have to wait to receive their refunds. These services attract those who can least afford them, promising to put money in their pockets the same day they file a return. Sadly, these services come at a steep price.
Refund anticipations loans (RALs) are just that, they are a loan. Taxpayers receives their anticipated refund amount the same day that they file. However, they are not only charged the cost of preparing the return, but are also charged with incredibly high interest rates, ranging from 40 percent to more than 100 percent.
The new prepaid credit card option is really just a refund anticipation loan disguised as a credit card. Users are charged a fee to take cash out at banks and ATMs, in addition to the fees charged to prepare the return.
Pay stub prep is another approach that many companies use to speed up the income tax process. This occurs when they take your last pay stub of the year and prepare your taxes from it. However, this method is never a good idea, as it can often result in inaccurate results leading to the chance of being audited by the IRS.
A free alternative to these high cost, risky refund approaches is the Athens County Fast and Free Tax Assistance Center. IRS-certified volunteers prepare simple, basic individual income tax returns FREE of charge for Athens County residents. There are no hidden fees and no high interest rates. With direct deposit of your refund into a checking or savings account, you can have your ENTIRE refund in as little as 7 to 10 business days.
The Tax Assistance Center is conveniently located at The Work Station in The Plains. Basic returns are prepared by appointment. If you want your refund fast and free, and you have received all of your tax documents, call the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services Fast & Free Tax Assistance Center today to schedule an appointment at 740-797-2523 or 1-800-762-3775.
This is our fifth year operating the Athens County Fast & Free Tax Assistance Center where we have helped nearly 6000 taxpayers file returns free of charge. Call us at 740-797-2523 or 1-800-762-3775 to see what we can do for you.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) centers are available in most states. To find one in you area, visit the IRS Web site or call 1-800-829-1040.