PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- This time of the year, the one thing on everyone's to-do list is taxes. While some are confident enough to tackle the task on their own, others rely on the help of free or paid tax preparing services.
There is a lot of information out there about which services to use, what documents to bring, and what questions to ask to make sure you get the largest refund possible.
NEWS CENTER's Sarah Delage sat down with Nicole Evans, project director for CASH Greater Portland, to find out.
"It's really important that individuals have every W-2 every 1099, 1098, all the numbers start to blend in," Evans said. "If anyone has any income, if they've worked on their own, if they've received unemployment, retirement, savings account, if there's even a penny in your savings account you should have some interest. If you have a child and they are in childcare you should have that information so that you can claim those credits for childcare."
Evans said that the free tax preparation offered by CA$H can be the gateway to learning about opportunities
"Everyone has to get their taxes done and we hope that they will take the opportunity to come in to certified volunteer tax preparers to have their state and federal taxes prepared. But then there are so many resources. The earned income tax credit which is a federal tax credit is an unknown credit that many people qualify for but unfortunately up to twenty percent don't claim the credit. That's four million dollars in Cumberland County. Forty million dollars throughout the state of Maine that go unclaimed every year. So in addition to those federal tax credits, state tax credits, the property tax and rent refund or the circuit breaker, that's an additional sixteen hundred dollars someone could put in their pocket. It takes ten minutes to apply for it. So that is another opportunity people can take."
Tax season is big business for a lot of people so this time of the year, there are a lot of ads airing for different paid tax preparation services. A big trend this year is commercials that suggest that certain businesses hire tax preparers that aren't qualified. Evans had some advice for people to make sure they get the appropriate refund.
"They should always understand what their financial situations look like, because the Earned Income Tax Credit which I had mentioned could put five thousand dollars or more in someone's pocket. So be aware that that's the amount you should get back if you have three or more children and are working full-time, so when you get that refund back you know why it's the amount that it is. And there's fees involved so if you can make sure that you're getting every credit, refundable or not, back in your pocket, and be aware that there are various fees involved when you go to a paid preparer that will certainly help."
Evans also says that although some commercials may suggest that there will be changes to your taxes this year because of the Affordable Care Act, she has not seen any significant changes this year because the law has not been fully implemented yet.
To get your taxes prepared for free through United Way and CA$H, you can call 211, or any of the following numbers:
¦Aroostook County ~ 764-5197
¦Capital Area (Augusta) ~ 620-8006
¦Central Maine (Waterville area)~ 873-7700
¦Eastern Maine (Bangor area and Penobscot, Piscataquis, Washington, & Hancock counties) ~ 255-9399
¦Greater Portland ~ 874-1000
¦Lewiston/Auburn ~ 513-3160
¦Midcoast Maine ~ 319-1390
¦Oxford County ~ 491-7475
¦Wabanaki ~ 866-6545
¦Western Maine ~ 491-4259
¦York County ~ 324-5762, ext. 2718
You can also prepare your taxes for free online by visiting myfreetaxes.com/maine