Tax Day is next Thursday, so in honor of all the last-minute procrastinators out there (and the accountants who help them!), here are few final tips and stories about tax season from around the country.
In Maryland, volunteers who just couldn’t get enough fun doing their own taxes are opening their slates to help low-income families get their taxes done — an important task, because many low-income filers are missing out on a big credit.
Georgia Samios of WYPR in Baltimore reports:
Here at Ray of Hope Baptist Church in Northeast Baltimore, volunteers are helping low income people fill out tax returns. They want to make sure that those who qualify get the earned income tax credit, which can literally put money in people’s pockets. .. That means more people are covered, says the Internal Revenue Service’s Peggy Riley.
“It’s a big expansion over other years, and with the amount of unemployment we’re figuring many more people will probably qualify for the earned income tax credit this year,” she says.
A similar volunteer program is underway in Seattle, where the public library is home base to help people get their taxes done. This year, there’s more confusion as many of those seeking help are underemployed or unemployed.
NPR’s Wendy Kaufman reports:
The pain is evident at the Seattle Public Library. Part of the library’s fifth floor has been turned into tax central for the past several weekends. Low-income people are getting free help in filing their tax returns.
Courtney Noble of the United Way is in charge of the program.
“We see more people every year — and this year, we see a lot of our same customers from last year,” Noble said.
In California, tax credits passed down to homeowners from a bill passed in the 1970s are causing intense debate as the state faces a budget crunch.
In San Diego, where the housing crisis hit particularly hard last year, residents are facing off with legislators as tax time approaches and the county stands to bring in less money in property taxes. California Proposition 13 passed more than 30 years ago and gave huge tax breaks to homeowners, aiming at helping them stay in their homes and not be “taxed out” over time. But now the state is questioning the law’s relevance. KPBS produced a recent special The Legacy of Prop. 13 analyzing the bill’s influence.
Joanne Faryon reports on Prop. 13′s impact:
Prop 13 locked in property assessments at 1 percent of the purchase price, and limited yearly increases to 2 percent. The result: California has among the lowest property tax rates in the country. In fact, more then half of all the homes in San Diego County are assessed below market value.
For last minute tips, Nightly Business Report continues it series with Kiplinger’s Kevin McCormally. Recent tips include help Supercharging You Standard Deduction and changes in Demutualized Stock Sales.