United Way's VITA program offers free tax preparation at one of four locations in central Iowa for anyone who made $58,000 or less last year.

The New Year brings new resolutions -- and the start of tax season. If your goal is to get organized this year, you can start by preparing to file your state and federal taxes in January. United Way of Central Iowa's VITA program provides free professional tax preparation services to anyone in our community who earned $58,000 or less last year. VITA and planned giving experts The Stelter Company offer these three simple steps to get ready for your taxes this year:

1. Gather your documents: Employers have until January 31 to send earning statements. When you receive your tax forms, review them for accuracy. The earlier you catch potential errors, the lower your chance of penalty in April. Our VITA program provides a checklist of items to bring if you plan to have your taxes prepared for free at one of our four sites. 

2. Get organized: If you have receipts from charitable organizations or major home improvements, now is the time to organize your paperwork. Remember to make note of any major life changes and their implications as you file this year. When you meet with your tax preparer at a VITA site, bring all of your organized paperwork with you. Our trained tax preparers will answer your questions and help ensure your tax return is accurate and ready to file.

3. Itemize, Itemize, Itemize: Instead of opting for the standard deductions to reduce your taxable income, list each tax deduction and credit you may qualify for. When you itemize your deductions, you can deduct charitable donations that you’ve made during the year. Visit IRS.gov to read more about the variety of credits and deductions available each year, and ask your VITA tax preparer to walk you through each option.

Once you’ve calculated your adjusted gross income, itemized your deductions and credits, and completed the necessary tax forms, you are ready to file your taxes. Work with your VITA tax preparer or visit IRS.gov to explore the electronic filing options (known as E-File) available for individuals looking to get an early start. You might also qualify to prepare your taxes for free online at www.myfreetaxes.com through United Way Worldwide. 

Tax Tip: Keep in mind the fastest way to receive your refund is to have it directly deposited into your bank account. Avoid costly refund loan programs or other offers to give you your refund immediately. These programs often carry unreasonable fees, and can put your credit at risk.

Make sure your taxes are accurate, legal, and get you the best possible refund. Contact United Way's VITA program for free tax preparation if you made $58,000 or less last year. Click below to learn about our six locations in central Iowa.


TAGS: Financial Stability

About The Author: Holly Sagar

Holly Sagar is the program manager for United Way of Central Iowa's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.