How to find Free Tax Services
The IRS provides free publications, forms and other tax material and information to help taxpayers meet their tax obligations. Free help is available on the IRS Web site, by phone, at local IRS offices and at many community locations.
·IRS.gov You can access free tax information at IRS.gov. At 1040 Central on the Individuals page, you can obtain forms, instructions and publications, learn about IRS e-file, determine your eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit, read about the latest tax changes and find answers to Frequently Asked Questions. In the Online Services section, you can access numerous applications to help with your taxes, including Free File, the IRS Withholding Calculator, the Alternative Minimum Tax Assistant, the EITC Assistant and more. You can also check the status of your refund by clicking on Where’s My Refund?
·Telephone Call the IRS Tax Help Line for Individuals, 800-829-1040, to get answers to your federal tax questions. To order free forms, instructions and publications call 800-829-3676. To hear pre-recorded messages covering various tax topics or check on the status of your refund, call 800-829-4477. TTY/TDD users may call 800-829-4059 to ask tax questions or to order forms and publications.
·Taxpayer Assistance Centers When you believe your tax issue cannot be handled online or by phone, and you want face-to-face assistance, you can find help at a local Taxpayer Assistance Center. Locations, business hours and an overview of services are available at IRS.gov. Just go to the “individuals” tab and click on the link for Contact My Local Office in the left tool bar section under IRS Resources.
·Community Resources Free tax preparation is available through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs in many communities. Volunteer return preparation programs provided through IRS and its partners offer free help in preparing simple tax returns for low- to moderate-income taxpayers. Call 800-906-9887 to find the VITA or TCE site nearest you. You may also call AARP — the largest TCE participant — at 888-227-7669 (888-AARPNOW) or access www.aarp.org to find the nearest Tax-Aide site.
For more information about services provided by the IRS, review Publication 910, IRS Guide to Free Tax Services available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Five Important Tax Credits
Check it out! You might be eligible for a tax credit. A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of taxes owed. Some credits are even refundable. That means you might receive a refund rather than owe any taxes.
Here are five popular credits you should consider before filing your 2008 Federal Income Tax Return:
1. The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable credit for low-income working individuals and families. Income and family size determine the amount of the credit. For more information, see IRS Publication 596, Earned Income Credit.
2. The Child and Dependent Care Credit is for expenses paid for the care of your qualifying children under age 13, or for a disabled spouse or dependent, to enable you to work or look for work. For more information, see IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
3. The Child Tax Credit is for people who have a qualifying child. The maximum amount of the credit is $1,000 for each qualifying child. This credit can be claimed in addition to the credit for child and dependent care expenses. For more information on the Child Tax Credit, see IRS Publication 972, Child Tax Credit.
4. The Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, also known as the Saver’s Credit, is designed to help low- and moderate-income workers save for retirement. You may qualify if your income is below a certain limit and you contribute to an IRA or workplace retirement plan, such as a 401(k) plan. The Saver’s Credit is available in addition to any other tax savings that apply. For more information, see IRS Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs).
5. Health Coverage Tax Credit Certain individuals, who are receiving certain Trade Adjustment Assistance, Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance, or pension benefit payments from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, may be eligible for a Health Coverage Tax Credit when you file your 2008 tax return.
There are other credits available to eligible taxpayers. Since many qualifications and limitations apply to the various tax credits, taxpayers should carefully check their tax form instructions, the listed publications, and additional information that is available on the IRS Web site at IRS.gov. IRS forms and publications are also available by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Mortgage Debt Forgiveness
If your mortgage debt is partly or entirely forgiven during tax years 2007 – 2012, you may be able to claim special tax relief and exclude the debt forgiveness income.
Normally, debt forgiveness results in taxable income. However, under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, you may be able to exclude up to $2 million of debt forgiven on your principal residence. The limit is $1 million for a married person filing a separate return.
Taxpayers may exclude debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in a foreclosure. To qualify, the debt must have been used to buy, build or substantially improve your principal residence and be secured by that residence. Refinanced debt proceeds used for the purpose of substantially improving your principal residence also qualify for the exclusion.
However, proceeds of refinanced debt used for other purposes (for example, to pay off credit card debt) do not qualify for the exclusion.
If you qualify, you claim the special exclusion by filling out Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness, and attaching it to your federal income tax return for the year.
Debt forgiven on second homes, rental property, business property, credit cards or car loans does not qualify for the new tax-relief provision. In some cases, however, other tax relief provisions, (for example, insolvency), may be available. See Form 982 for details.
If your debt is reduced or eliminated you will receive a year-end statement, Form 1099-C, from your lender. By law, this form must show the amount of debt forgiven and the fair market value of any property foreclosed.
The IRS urges borrowers to examine the Form 1099-C carefully. Notify the lender immediately if any of the information shown is incorrect. You should pay particular attention to the amount of debt forgiven (Box 2) and the value listed for your home (Box 7).
For more information about the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, visit the IRS Web site at IRS.gov. A good resource is IRS Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions and Abandonments. Taxpayers may obtain a copy of this publication and Form 982 either by downloading from IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).