Friday, March 22, 2024

Jane Pringle: Resources to streamline your tax filing

By State Rep. Jane Pringle

As we turn the corner into spring, it is once again time to contend with tax filing season. While filing taxes with the IRS can be complicated and difficult, I wanted to use this space to share some tools and resources that will make the experience more manageable. Tax season can be a time to reflect, take stock of our financial circumstances and encourage us to make the necessary adjustments to promote financial responsibility and growth.

State Rep. Jane Pringle
Last year, my colleagues and I passed a number of pivotal measures to provide meaningful relief and develop a fairer tax structure. As your legislator, it is my goal to always advocate for bills that will put money back into the hands of hardworking Mainers and their families.

For example: We expanded the Property Fair Tax Credit by increasing the qualifying income and assets so that more middle-class Mainers will be able to qualify. We also passed a new, refundable child tax credit to help parents build economic security and to assist in lifting Maine families out of poverty. These credits, among others, are available for folks to capitalize on this tax season.

Additionally, there is an abundance of resources ranging from user-friendly software to professional assistance that can provide guidance and streamline the process. If you are hoping to secure professional help, CA$H Maine is a group of nonprofit and for-profit businesses across that state that work together to provide tax preparation resources and other financial services to those who meet the income requirements.

This year, their services include in-person appointments where you can bring your relevant documents to an IRS-certified tax preparer who will prepare your taxes that same day. If there is not enough time in your schedule to accommodate an in-person meeting, there is a Scan & Go service and a Drop & Go service at participating locations where a preparer will complete your filing and then call to inform you when you can return to pick up your documents.

There is also the IRS tax assistance office. While there are a handful of locations across the state, the closest office to Windham can be found in South Portland at 440 Western Ave. They are currently holding extended hours and are available to accept appointments; to make one, please call (844) 545-5640. Not only do they have a volunteer income assistance program, but the office also offers tax counseling for those 60 or older.

Qualifying individuals include folks who make $64,000 a year or less, those with disabilities and taxpayers who don’t speak English as their first language. This service is staffed by volunteers who are required to meet IRS standards, making it a trusted and reliable source available to answer any questions you may have regarding your taxes.

Locally, there is also an AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, which offers free assistance to Mainers who need help filing their taxes. Certified by the IRS and operated by AARP volunteers, the service is open to taxpayers of all ages; AARP membership is not required. The foundation encourages all to file, even if not required, as some lower-income folks might be eligible for additional Maine state refunds for property tax, rent relief and sales tax relief.

To put your name on the waiting list for an appointment for the Tax-Aide’s Windham location at Unity Garden, call 207-518-8579.

By approaching tax season with a positive mindset and utilizing the resources above, it is my hope that taxpayers will be more easily able to navigate the process. The deadline to file is April 15, and there is no time like the present to decide your tax filing strategy in order to maximize potential deductions and minimize possible liabilities. With the proper assistance, individuals should feel prepared to take advantage of any deductions and credits available from both federal and state governments. Happy filing!

Rep. Jane Pringle is serving her second non-consecutive term in the Maine House of Representatives, having previously served from 2012-2014. She is currently a member of the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee in the 131st Maine Legislature. <

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