Q&A with Lea Crusberg
Free tax preparation assistance
still available as deadline nears
Q: The deadline for filing 2012 federal income tax returns is April 15. For those who have yet to start on their taxes, is free tax help still available?
A: Yes. Trained community volunteers at many locations across Oklahoma offer free tax preparation and electronic filing to most taxpayers whose 2012 incomes were $51,000 or less. To find a volunteer site near you, call (800) 906-9887, or go online to www.irs.gov/Individuals/Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-for-You-by-Volunteers.
Also the IRS has Taxpayer Assistance Centers in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Lawton and Enid where face-to-face assistance is available on weekdays. Find out more at www.irs.gov/uac/Contact-My-Local-Office-in-Oklahoma.
Lastly, on the “1040 Central” page www.irs.gov/Individuals/1040-Central of the IRS website, there's a link to Free File, a consortium of 15 commercial software companies that partner with the IRS to offer taxpayers free use of their tax preparation and filing software online.
Q: What's your best advice to taxpayers who already know they expect to miss the filing deadline?
A: Request an automatic extension of time to file. Postmark or e-file Form 4868 www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4868.pdf by the April 15 deadline, which automatically gives you until Oct. 15 to get the tax return completed and filed without incurring a late-filing penalty. However, if there is any balance due, late-payment penalties still apply.
Q: Any advice for filers who know they'll owe taxes but can't pay them in full by the deadline?
A: File your return on time and pay as much money as you can. That will reduce the balance upon which late-payment penalty and interest are calculated. Then call the IRS at (800) TAX-1040 to discuss your payment options.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER