Help for Taxpayers | Congressman Ami Bera

Congressman Ami Bera

Representing the 7th District of California
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Help for Taxpayers

Tax season is right around the corner! This year’s filing deadline is April 18th, 2017.

I know this can be a stressful time for many folks in Sacramento County, which is why I want to make sure you know that my office is here to help you.

Please refer to this page to learn more about the helpful resources available to local taxpayers, many of which are free. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at (916) 635 0505 and we’ll try and help you in any way we can.


 

How my office can help you

Making government work for you is core to my job. My office is here to help you cut through red tape – everything from backlogged Veterans’ benefits to stalled passports – and ensure that you get the first-rate services that you deserve. We may also be able to help you with IRS tax issues like delayed refunds.

Please call my office at (916) 635 0505 or visit bera.house.gov/gethelp for more information.

In addition, my office is is partnering with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) this year to hold two Tax Assistance Workshops to help area residents get the help they may need. According to the IRS, VITA provides free tax help generally to people who earn $54,000 a year or less. Please click here to learn more and to RSVP now – space is limited!

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Know your rights as a taxpayer

All taxpayers are entitled to certain rights. For instance, no one who is employed by the IRS may discriminate against you because of your race or gender. And if you think the IRS has incorrectly determined how much money you owe, you also have the right to appeal the decision. The IRS has a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that you can refer to learn more.

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Need to talk with somebody to get more help?

If you need help with your taxes and don’t know where to turn, please call the independent Taxpayer Advocate Service for further assistance. They’re here to answer your questions and connect you with the resources you may need. They also help people who may be enduring financial hardships related to their taxes.

Below is how to contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service in the Sacramento area:

Taxpayer Advocate Service
Phone: (916) 974-5007
4330 Watt Ave.
Stop SA-5043
Sacramento, CA 95821

A list of Taxpayer Advocate offices is located here: www.irs.gov/advocate.

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How to get an extension

This year, the IRS filing deadline is April 18th, 2017. But, as you know, sometimes unexpected circumstances can make it harder for some taxpayers to meet the yearly deadline.

If you’re unable to file your taxes by April 18th this year, you have the option of filing for an extension. You may file an extension either online or by mail. If you file electronically, the IRS will provide you with a confirmation number or acknowledgement that you may keep for your records.

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File for free!

With the IRS Free File initiative, many local taxpayers have the option to prepare and file their taxes for free. According to the IRS, you may be eligible to file your taxes for free with easy to use software if your 2016 Adjusted Gross Income is $64,000 or less. The IRS has earlier reported that this program has saved American taxpayers more than $1.4 billion since 2003.

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Free tax preparation help

Qualifying taxpayers may also be eligible to receive free preparation help from the IRS.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA):

One free, IRS-supported tax prep service called the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, or VITA, provides certified volunteers to help you file your return. According to the IRS, VITA provides free tax help generally to people who earn $54,000 a year or less.

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE):

There’s also the free Tax Counseling for the Elderly program, or TCE. This initiative is for people who are 60 or older navigate common tax filing problems that older Americans often face, but it’s also available to all taxpayers.

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Find the status of your tax refund

Many families rely on their yearly tax refunds as a crucial source of income. According to the IRS, most refunds are issued in about three weeks or less, but delays are always possible.

If you’ve already filed your taxes and are interested in learning more about the status of your refund, the IRS website has a feature called “Where’s my Refund” that you may use to get more information.

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Obtain a refund from another year

According to the IRS, many taxpayers are not aware that they generally have up three years to claim a refund.

And each year, the IRS says many taxpayers lose out on their hard-earned money because they didn’t file. For instance, in 2015, the IRS said that about a million taxpayers were in jeopardy of losing a total of more than $1 billion dollars if they didn’t file in time.

It may not be too late to claim your hard-earned money. However, in order to claim a refund from the 2013 tax year, you must file a return no later than this year’s filing deadline – April 18th, 2017.

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Beware of scammers!

Every year, criminals use tax season as a time to steal personal information and money from hardworking Americans.

According to the IRS, sometimes scammers will fraudulently use the IRS logo to steal from you. The IRS reports some scammers will make threatening phone calls to try and intimidate people and steal private financial information. Many of these criminals often target senior citizens.

Please be especially careful this time of year! The IRS has unveiled its top “dirty dozen” tax scams for 2017 - visit their web page to learn more. If you have been scammed make sure to report it to the IRS here

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Get old returns & W-2s

Many taxpayers often need access to a variety of documents to file their taxes. Two of the most common documents are a past W-2 or a past return.

Past tax returns: Sometimes you may need a past tax return for your records or to complete a financial transaction like a mortgage. If you need this information you may ask the IRS for a transcript of your return, which is available for free and usually has the information most people need. You may also request a copy of the actual return itself for a fee.

Past W2s: For many Americans, receiving your W-2 in the mail is oftentimes the first step you take towards filing your taxes. Usually the surest way to get a W-2 from a prior year is by asking your employer. However, you may also contact the IRS to order a copy of your entire return for a fee if needed.

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Tax Help for Seniors

Senior citizens often face a number of distinct challenges when filing their taxes. Questions about pensions or whether Social Security is taxable are common questions for older taxpayers.

The IRS has compiled an online tax guide to help seniors answer these questions and to file their taxes. It also has more information about the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program that offers free tax help for people who need it.

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