Tax time is here, don’t put it off

According to the Internal Revenue Service’s form 1040 instructions, the average individual tax filer can expect to spend eight hours and $110 preparing and filling out a return.

That doesn’t include time your employer spends getting tax forms ready for you. There’s a table showing all this information on page 100 of the instructions, which you can read here: www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040gi.pdf.

Fortunately, page 5 lists sources of free help and free software to help you complete a return.

One example are Low Income Taxpayer Clinics, which are independent from the IRS. For more information, and to find a clinic, check the LITC page on IRS.gov/litc or IRS Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List. Get the publication by calling (800) 829-3676.

Locally, there are a variety of places offering free help filling out and submitting tax returns.

They include the AARP Tax Aide program which offers help to low and moderate-income households; Mondays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., through April 13 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Marietta; they also offer sites in Barlow and Beverly at the local library branches.

Last year, 1,500 volunteers prepared 80,000 tax returns in more than 200 locations across Ohio. You do not need to be a member of AARP to participate.

Also offering tax help is Washington Morgan Community Action. There, married couples with a joint income of $95,000 or less, and individuals with an income of $65,000 or less, can get help.

For those who are confident they can complete the forms, the IRS Free File program is available at IRS.gov. Free, brand-name software is available to individuals and families earning $62,000 or less.

There’s also a little help for everyone: Because April 15 falls on a Saturday this year, and the Washington D.C. Emancipation Day holiday is being observed April 17, the deadline to file federal income tax returns is April 18.

That’s 72 extra hours to get the task done.

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