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5 ways to get organized for tax season

Review your last tax return, find free help, plan ahead to get your refund fast, local expert says.

It’s never too early to get organized for tax season, according to experts.

The 2013 federal tax filing season starts in January, and people need to file their 2012 tax return with the Internal Revenue Service by April 15, 2013, unless they file for an extension.

Alan Poplinski, an IRS-certified volunteer tax preparer and site coordinator for the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program’s The Job Center and Dayton Christian Center sites, both in Dayton, offers these tips to help you get organized for the 2013 tax filing season.

1. “Do a review.”

  • “Taxpayers should review their 2011 tax return for any changes that may have happened in 2012. Changes may include life events such as marriage, divorce, death or the birth of a child.”


2. “Explore your options.

  • “Depending on your income and type of return, there are several free tax preparation options, including the IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and AARP sites. For more information, visit”
  • “If you do visit a paid preparer, inquire about the fee for preparing the return; for example, are you charged based on the number of forms, are you charged for additional W-2’s, and are state and school returns included in the pricing?”


3. “Come prepared.”

  • “When you have your 2012 tax return done, bring your 2011 tax return to the preparer for review also.”
  • “To reduce the likelihood of fraud, bring a photo ID. Secure your Social Security card in a safe place, and only carry it with you when you go to have your taxes prepared.”
  • “Make sure you gather all income documentation for 2012, including all W-2 forms from all employers in 2012.”
  • “If you received any unemployment benefits in 2012, bring Form 1099-G.”
  • “If you received any interest from banks or credit unions, bring Form 1099-INT or 1099-DIV.”
  • “If you received a pension, (bring) Form 1099-R, and if you started to collect Social Security benefits in 2012, you will need Form SSA-1099 from the Social Security Administration.”
  • “If you are itemizing deductions on your tax return, you will need to gather all your proof of deductions from various organizations. Examples include business expenses, education expenses, medical expenses, home mortgage, real estate and property taxes if applicable, and charitable contributions.”


4. “Plan ahead.”

  • “An important tip to get your refund back in as little as 10 days is to use direct deposit. If you do not have a bank account, now would be time to apply at a bank or credit union for an account for direct deposit of your tax refund.”
  • “If you owe a balance on your return, your best option is to send as much as you can with the original return; this will reduce the penalty and interest owed, saving you money in 2013.”


5. “Know the deadlines.”

  • “April 15, 2013, is the deadline for filing 2012 federal and Ohio state income tax returns and extension requests. Oct. 15, 2013, is the deadline for filing extended 2012 federal and state income tax returns.”

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