Famous Philadelphian Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” With comparisons like that, it’s not surprising that many people may feel overwhelmed at the thought of filing their own taxes!
Luckily, there is an online program that makes tax returns simple and easy. The process can be completed on your own time – no having to wait for an appointment.
This is made possible by My Free Taxes (www.myfreetaxes.com/bcoc), which provides free federal and state tax preparation, plus filing assistance, for households making less than $57,000 a year. It’s easy, safe and secure and (best of all) 100% free.
The My FreeTaxes Partnership is powered by the Walmart Foundation – in cooperation with Goodwill Industries International, National Disability Institute and United Way Worldwide. According to the United Way, as of the end of February, more than 40,000 taxpayers had already used the free service.
Bucks County Opportunity Council staff member Briana McGonagle was one of those people. “I filed my taxes on my own for the first time this year,” said Briana. “I was dreading doing so because I was afraid I would miss something and mess everything up. I filed online using My Free Taxes, and was surprised at how simple it was.”
“I realized I was worried for nothing! The website was easy to use, even for a person like me who has never filed taxes on my own before. The site explained everything that I needed and walked me through the process of filing my Federal and State income taxes. My Free Taxes was thorough and explained that there were credits I was eligible for,” said Briana.
Being prepared can save you a lot of time, too. Before you sit down at a computer and click on www.myfreetaxes.com/bcoc, take the following steps:
Step 1: Gather your documents
- W-2s for each job held in 2012 for each person in your household
- 1099s and 1098s showing other income (unemployment, social security, school loans, health care reimbursement, state tax refund, gambling winnings, contract work)
- Income/interest statements received for any savings accounts or investments
- Bank account number and routing number for direct deposit of your refund
- Last year’s tax return (if you have it)
Step 2: Collect information for everyone in your household
- Name and taxpayer number as they appear on the Social Security Card (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number letter (ITIN) for you and all your dependents (including children and elderly relatives for whom you provide care)
- Date of birth and relationship (son, daughter, mother, etc.) for each household member
- Current address (it may be different from the address on your employment records)
Step 3: Gather additional items to get a larger refund
- Childcare expenses: name, address, Tax ID or Social Security Number of the child care provider
- Business expenses and assets: if you are self-employed or have a small business
- College loans and/or scholarships received, and bills for technical/community college or university (Forms 1098-T/1098-E)
- Educator expenses if you teach grades K-12
- Charitable donations: list of contributions and amounts, receipts for contributions over $250
- Vehicle sales tax, personal property tax statement for each car you own, total miles driven for the year and/or total miles driven for business
- Amount of rent paid (rebates are available in some states)
- Mortgage interest statement (Form 1098), real estate taxes paid, Statement of Property Tax Payable in 2012
- Amount contributed to an IRA and total value as of December 2012
Step 4: File your taxes for FREE at www.myfreetaxes.com/bcoc.
Best of luck, Bucks County – we know you can do it!
About the contributor: Jessie Marushak leads all development efforts for Bucks County Opportunity Council, Inc. She joined staff in 2012 and has a proven track record for non-profit fund-raising and extensive experience in development, marketing, public relations and event management. The Opportunity Council connects people with resources to thrive. For more information, visit www.bcoc.org or email Jessie at email@example.com.