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What to look out for when filing taxes

ABILENE, Texas (KRBC) - It is Uncle Sam's favorite time of the year, and a friendly reminder that we are a month away from the tax deadline.

"That time of year. Woohoo," Francina Martinez laughed.

Tax season can be dreadful for some but many, like Francina Martinez take advantage of filing for free.

"My dad, he used to be an AARP coordinator and doing the taxes. I've been there ever since. They're really the best. The people are really great. They're really professional," Martinez said. "I, one time, had to go to AARP because of some job and they charged me $35-$40 just to do the taxes." 

Each year, she has continued the tradition with the Abilene Public Library.

"Most of them thank us and appreciate our time that we spend as a volunteer basis," AARP Free Tax Help, District Coordinator Linda Aten said.

The Tax Aid volunteers have a three checks systems to ensure a low reject rate.

"We interview them first and then they go to the computer and have all the information put in, and then we have a quality reviewer," Aten explained.

From now until April 13, the Abilene Public Library is offering free tax assistance. Only the Main Library and Mockingbird Branch are providing the resource.

Tax aid volunteers from the American Association of Retired Persons will be available to assist on a first come, first serve basis.

The library recommends that you arrive at the respective location as early as possible because once the volunteers have as many people as they can handle, they can turn people away for another day.

You are advised to bring last year's tax returns, this year's tax materials (including W-2 forms) and the social security cards of every famil member that is included in the return.

Volunteers may not be held responsible for any tax errors.

Here are the times and days the locations are providing free tax filing.

Main Library at 202 Cedar: 
Every Wednesday and Thursday
9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Mockingbird Branch at 1326 N. Mockingbird:
Every Friday and Saturday
9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

While many like to file for free, others like to have peace of mind and pay a professional.

"You have us backing you up. In this day and age, you have the IRS, they're coming down pretty hard on people that are claiming deductions that they're not supposed to be claiming," Jackson Hewitt tax preparer III, Kristal Leach said.

She explained, many confuse the difference between a standard deduction and itemized deduction.

"They come in here and they, 'Well, I have this charitable donation, I have these, I have these. So, they have the impression that because they have all of that, that's going to reduce their taxes and it's not. That's only if you're going to itemize," Leach said.

A new one this year, the misconception of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) penalty, also known as Obamacare. Leach explained some tax filers believe it has been canceled. However, they are not wrong. The penalty will go away for next year as you file this year's taxes. The sign-off is supposed to zero out the fines, but some people may have leeway from it.

"There are exemptions that some people qualify for. Some people are already qualified for it because of their income. If you're under the threshold limit, then of course you don't get that penatly, but there are people that have hardships and stuff like that," Leach said.

The final day to file your taxes is April 15.

Those who know they will not be ready to file taxes by then can file a tax exemption but they must do so before the April 15 deadline. The extension allows up to six months to file.


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