File your taxes for free - WSMV Channel 4

File your taxes for free

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Violet Young usually works from home. She owns a daycare in Antioch, but she came to the Woodburn Community Center in Nashville to file her taxes.

SPECIAL SECTION: Tax Guide 2011

"They get it done right there.  I'm not waiting. It helps a lot. I'm saving money," said Young.

It's through a program called VITA or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, a free tax preparation service for people under the age of 60 and with an income of less than $50,000.

Another program called Tax Counseling for the Elderly or T.C.E. does the same thing for older people.

"Just by coming to a VITA site you save about $100," said Patricia Langford, a senior tax consultant for the IRS.

Certified volunteers help people get tax credits they may not know they're eligible for,
like the Earned Income Tax Credit, which can be worth a maximum of $5,700.

"It's designed for families with children, but even someone that is of low income could be eligible for it, and we certainly don't want any money left on the table that belongs to Tennessee" said Langford.

Yet that happens every year.  The IRS estimates $25 million in tax refunds are left unclaimed in Davidson County alone.
 
"It's their money. It's something the government allows us to claim, but they can not do that unless they come and have their tax return prepared," said Cindy Rutan, a site coordinator for VITA.

The programs are expanding. This year they have more than 20 sites like the Woodbine Community Center and they've more than doubled the number of certified volunteers.

Hours vary and some require appointments.

Young recommended making yours sooner rather than later.

"All these seats will be covered with people if you wait a little bit longer," said Young.

When you visit a site you will need to bring your social security card, your ID, documents showing real estate taxes paid in 2011, birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents, wage and earning statements, interest and dividend stamens from banks, a copy of last year's Federal and State returns if available, bank routing numbers, and account numbers for direct deposit, total paid for day care provider and the day care provider's tax identification number, information for other income, and information for deductions and credits.

To find a site you can call the United Way's help hotline at 211, visit irs.gov or call 1-800-906-9887.

April 17 is this year's tax filing deadline. 

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