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Prepping for the 2010 tax season

Published 10:44pm Thursday, February 18, 2010

ROBERT HUDSON

It’s tax season and professional tax preparers are feeling the rush.

Jerry Carden, of Gibson & Carden, LLC said people need to gather up the necessary information to be prepared to file their taxes.

“They need to gather up all their income information, W-2 forms, Social Security 1099’s and any business income,” Carden said. “If they’ve never done business with a tax preparer before and they have children, they’ll need to bring Social Security cards.”

Elaine Strickland of H&R Block said people also need to have W-2 forms with them.*

“They would basically need their W-2,” Strickland said. “It is, by law, that we can not file by the paycheck stub.”

Carden said anyone who lets a professional tax preparer do their taxes will need to provide information about deductions in addition to income information.

“You need to get together all the deductions for medical expenses, charitable contributions and property taxes paid,” Carden said. “If you’ve made any purchases of large items like an automobile, you can take them the amount of sales tax that you paid because you’re entitled, in the federal return, to deduct the greater of state income tax you paid on state and local sales tax.”

Both Carden and Strickland said that there are a number of new types of exemptions.

“There’s the first time home buyer’s credit which, strangely enough, may, under certain circumstances, also apply to people who bought a new home, but it wasn’t their first home,” Carden said. “There are certain conditions they can meet that would enable them to be considered a first time home buyer.”

Strickland said there are also new exemptions related to students and children.

“One thing that people are taking advantage of is the fact that we have what we call a making work pay credit where they had lowered our tax tables and it didn’t work,” Strickland said. “So what the government is allowing is based on your income, but if you’re income is up to a certain level you could get as much as $400 per person.

“For earned income, you can claim three children now, where last year it was only two. There’s a misconception that the child tax credit has been raised, but it has not. It’s still $1,000.”

“There’s also the American opportunity credit for people who are struggling to pay their tuition,” he added.

Carden said one advantage of filing early is residents will receive their refunds faster.

“If you have a refund coming, the quicker you file, the quicker you get your money back,” he said.

Strickland said that those who file early avoid long waits.

“Right before or right after the last week of January or the first week of February you really have a long wait,” she said. “So, if you can get in here as soon as you get your W-2, it’s very advantageous, you don’t have that long wait.”

Strickland also said that an advantage of having a professional tax preparer do taxes is they are well trained.

“We’re required to be tested through the year,” she said. “We have to take at least three hours of testing, and we have to be certified.”

Carden said that an advantage to using a professional is that they can keep residents from taking deductions that could get them in trouble with the IRS.

Carden also said that it’s not too late to use a professional tax preparer before April 15.

“The season really has only begun,” Carden said.

Strickland said that the rush has started to slow down at H&R Block.

Carden said that things have slowed down at Gibson & Carden, as well.

“It’s steady for us,” Carden said. “Our busy month is March. Most people ought to understand that if you get in early and get your tax return filed electronically, you should get your money in three to seven days in most cases.”

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