Tips to save, avoid fraud when filing taxes - Tucson News Now

Tips to save, avoid fraud when filing taxes

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The April 15 tax deadline is still a little way away, but chances are you've got your W-2s and are ready to file.  The IRS wants to make sure you save money and are aware of scammers.

One tax credit will help college students save.

"The American Opportunity Credit is for those first four years, not graduate school," IRS spokesman Bill Brunson said. 

He said students in a certain income bracket can use this credit to get money in their pocket.

"So If you're attending college and you meet all the qualifications for this particular credit, you could get a check cut for a thousand dollars for going back to school."

Another tax credit applies to tax payers who make less than $52,000 a year.  The Earned Income Tax Credit.  Families who qualify could get a refund of up to $6,000.  Filing software and your tax preparer will ask you about this credit.

If you need help filing a simple return, trained volunteer groups are now set up throughout Southern Arizona.  Services are available to people making less than $52,000 a year and people ages 60 and up.

To find free services near you, go to http://www.irs.gov/ and in the search bar, type "free tax help."  The website will ask for your zip code to generate a list of places to go.

"They will prepare both federal and state tax returns and file them electronically for you," Brunson said.

Getting your return might take longer than usual now because of identity theft protections.

"On the criminal side where I work, we have a lot more agents working those cases," Special Agent Brian Watson said.

"There are these criminals who figured out they can steal money from the government by using someone else's social security number and putting in false employment information."

Watson said victims will still get their returns, but sorting through the mess is a hassle.  He said the best way to avoid identity theft is to protect your private information year-round.

The IRS devotes more time to checking returns before they go out.  Direct deposit returns now take up to 21 days.

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