Help with filing taxes

February 26, 2011 7:40:16 AM PST
Each year, millions of tax-paying Americans delay filing income taxes until the very the last minute.

Some procrastinate, but others just feel confused by the forms and deductions. To help you file sooner rather than later, Joan Jensen, President and CEO of Central Credit Union of Illinois, visited the ABC7 studio with tips.

1. Don't lose dollars over failure to claim earned income credit.
If you qualify for the Federal Earned Income Credit, chances are you also qualify for an Illinois credit. If you've qualified but failed to claim this credit in past returns, you can go up to three years to amend and claim these refunds.

2. Avoid tax anticipation loans.
These "predatory" loans can come with an APR as steep as 24 percent. For a quick refund, e-file your return and select direct deposit. You could get your refund in as few as eight days. If you don't have a checking account, you can get a pre-paid debit card. You can check the status of your refund online at

3.Visit Free File on the IRS website to find out how you can prepare and e-file your federal return for free. Participating software companies also make products available that support state tax returns.

4. The IRS will grant an extension as long as you file for it before midnight on April 15. The extension will help you avoid any penalties for filing late. However, extensions give extra time for FILING ONLY. Any taxes owed must still be paid by the filing deadline.

Places to Get Help
1. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) provides free tax help for low-to moderate-income (less than $49,000) filers who are unable to prepare their own tax returns.

2. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs offer free tax help to people aged 60 and older.

3. The Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC) provides members of the armed forces with free tax preparation assistance.

4.The Chicago Center for Economic Progress and the Tax Assistance Program offer assistance at 39 sites throughout the metropolitan area. City residence can call 311 City Services and ask about Program locations. Residents outside the city can call 312-409-1555 or 312-630-0273.