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TAX TIME: Don't get caught in the filing storm

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By Brent Schanding

 An estimated 605,000 Tennesseans will wait until April 15 — the deadline — to file their taxes, according to information from Internal Revenue Service auditors. 

If you’re one of those procrastinators, clip these tips and put them on the fridge:  

E-filing allows taxpayers to easily and accurately submit their tax information. The IRS offers its “Free File” partnership along with several tax software companies. It allows most filers to prepare and e-file their returns free online. It’s only available at www.irs.gov. Extensions are free, too, through Free File, but must be filed by April 15.

 Thousands of Campbell County taxpayers likely qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Many lower-income workers, including some grandparents raising grandchildren and rural residents, miss out on EITC each year. Even if you couldn’t claim EITC on previous tax returns, changes in your income or marital status or having a child may allow you claim it for 2012. If you worked at least part of last year and your household income was below $50,270, you may qualify for EITC. Use the EITC Assistant at the IRS website: IRS.gov.

Here’s a warning: Watch Out for Tax Scams. E-mails that appear to be from the IRS probably aren’t, according to auditors. Scammers may go phishing for your private information by alerting you to a nonexistent refund or threatening you with an audit if you fail to

respond. The IRS never uses e-mail, texts or social media to initiate contact with taxpayers. 

Never. 

Report phishing at IRS.gov. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 For those without Internet access or capabilities, trained volunteers are available to assist. Sites are located in many libraries, churches, strip malls, senior centers and other community locations in The Press’ coverage area. Most sites are less busy now, before the April filing rush. Call 1-800-906-9887 to see if you qualify for the free help and to find the closest site.

 If you anticipate a refund, don’t delay. Check your refund status at IRS.gov using the updated “Where’s My Refund?” tool.

If you have the free  IRS2Go app, check from your smartphone. But remember, the IRS updates refund status only once each night, so no point in checking more than once a day.