PICKENS COUNTY — Grab your calculators, W-2s, box of receipts and No. 2 pencils: it is officially tax time.
The Internal Revenue Service has announced that the nation’s 2016 tax season has begun on schedule and individual returns are currently being accepted as of Jan. 19.
Although tax time can be a source of stress for individuals uncomfortable with the filing process, several local organizations are offering free tax consultation and assistance services for residents in Pickens County.
Beginning Jan. 28, the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) through United Way and AmeriCorps will be providing free income tax assistance at the various branches of the Pickens County Library system. The Pickens branch will begin services Jan. 29.
Anyone who lives in the county and has a household income of less than $54,000 a year is eligible to participate in the program. Appointments are encouraged and may be made by calling 1-877-648-9900.
According to the IRS, as much as 70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers will be eligible for IRS Free File. In addition, commercial partners of the IRS offer free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $62,000 or less every year.
But a professional tax service isn’t necessarily a “must-have.” Online forms provide taxpayers access to electronic versions of IRS paper forms — regardless of income — that can be prepared and filed by people who are comfortable with completing their own returns.
The IRS does assert that choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund. This year, the agency anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.
“We look forward to opening the 2016 tax season on time,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “Our employees have been working hard throughout this year to make this happen. We also appreciate the help from the nation’s tax professionals and the software community, who are critical to helping taxpayers during the filing season.”
The filing deadline to submit 2015 tax returns is Monday, April 18, rather than the traditional April 15 date due to the celebration of Emancipation Day.
For more information, to download tax forms or to find tax help, visit www.irs.gov.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.