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Tax season begins on Jan. 27

It’s that time of year again to submit tax returns, and there are several documents that will need to be gathered to make the process as efficient as possible.

“Any kind of documentation from your employer, whether that’s a W-2 for a full-time employee or a 10-99 if you’re not technically an employee of the company but a contractor, is necessary,” said Andrew Womack with H and R Block of Troy. “You will also need documentation of any government payments, which are 10-99-Gs. Filers will need a photo ID and their social security number as well as the social security numbers of any children that will be included on the return.

The IRS will begin accepting returns on Jan. 27 and the deadline to file returns is April 15.

Jay F. Shirley, CPA, said getting a trained professional can save citizens time and money.

“A lot of times, people leave a little on the table by not knowing all the rules,” Shirley said.

Last year, there were concerns that returns might be delayed as the government faced a shutdown that included some of the IRS and officials scrambled to learn the new form changes implemented by the administration of President Donald Trump.

There are some changes to tax forms this year, Shirley said, but the process is expected to be much smoother than last year.

Shirley said itemization is the biggest source of confusion that he has heard so far as people prepare to file their tax returns.

“Even though a lot of people will not itemize on their federal returns, many can still itemize on their State of Alabama returns,” Shirley said. “There’s been a lot of confusion over that with the people I have talked to recently.”

Free tax preparation services will also be provided in the county to help people get the returns they need.

The Pike County Extension Office will provide citizens with free tax help this income tax season through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. The VITA Program offers free tax help and preparation for low-and moderate-income individuals and families, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English speakers.

“The average cost of tax preparation is $270, and most low-income families cannot afford to pay that amount,” said Abby Peters, Pike County Extension Coordinator. “The VITA Program is a great way for qualified citizens to take advantage of free basic tax preparation and keeps that money within Pike County.”

The Pike County Extension Office will have IRS-certified volunteers to provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. The VITA Program will be offered at the Pike County Extension Office, located at 306 S 3 Notch Street, Troy, AL 36081 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) beginning February 3 and ending April 13. For more information or any questions regarding the VITA Program, please call the Pike County Extension Office at 334-566-0985.