Tax season presents new challenges to taxpayers
Tax preparers certified by the Internal Revenue Service gathered together to help people do their taxes at the Northeast Community Center on Saturday.
AARP and United Way teamed up for the annual program, helping families who earned less than $66,000 in 2018 get their taxes done for free.
"It can cost anywhere from $250 upward to have your taxes prepared nowadays," Jen Watson, one of Saturday's volunteers, said. "If you're getting a small refund, you still owe the preparer some money."
There have been a few changes to the nation's tax code this season. According to CBS News, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act gave taxpayers lower tax rates on more of their income, nearly doubled the standard deduction, and provided higher tax credits for families with children.
"This gives you a larger deduction from your gross income," Watson said.
To pay for the tax breaks, CBS News reports that the tax law erased many deductions that millions of taxpayers claim every year.
There are nine tax deductions individuals can no longer claim for their 2018 taxes: personal exemptions, home equity loan interest, moving expenses, job expenses, tax preparation fees, parking and transit reimbursements, casualty and theft losses, donations to colleges to receive tickets to athletic events and other miscellaneous deductions. The deductions will remain out of action through 2025, unless Congress acts to make the tax law permanent.
Organizers of the program said they helped nearly 4,400 Alaska taxpayers receive about $5 million in refunds last year. Those people saved more than $887,000 in tax prep fees.
"It's free and they do a great job," Sabrina Maddox, who benefits from the program, said. "For years, I was paying someone to do my taxes, and I'm low income at this point in my life and so, you know, every little bit helps."
The sessions will be offered through April 15. For more information, click here.
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