Living Columns & Blogs

You don’t have to face tax problems alone

April 17 is the deadline to file your 2017 tax return. Most taxpayers anticipate a refund, but some know they owe taxes. Where do you stand? 

If you expect a refund, perhaps you have thought of ways to spend it as well. Does your list include a rental deposit for a new apartment, home repairs, medical bills, car repairs or savings for a rainy day? While it is tempting to spend your refund on things like purses, televisions and vacations, it is important to plan ahead for the next year and spend your refund wisely. A carefully drafted budget can stretch your refund to help with expenses throughout the entire year, instead of a few weeks. 

On the other hand, if you owe taxes and you cannot afford to pay the amount, then maybe you are reluctant to file on time. However, filing late will only make your IRS issue worse and cause you to owe more with interest and penalties. In fact, you might be able to set up a payment plan with the IRS. 

While it may seem scary to face a tax problem alone, help is available. For some taxpayers, the best option is to hire an attorney, CPA or enrolled agent. For other taxpayers, there are free services available through a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site. Those free services depend on availability in your area, and the rules established by the sponsoring organization.  Usually your income is a key indicator as to whether you qualify for free services. Either way, it is extremely important to make sure you select a professional who is licensed, and will not make your situation worse. 

MidPenn Legal Services has an LITC. The LITC office is located in York, however our attorney serves and travels to the offices in the following counties: Adams, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Centre, Clearfield, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, Schuylkill and York. There are many MidPenn offices, with the closest to those living in Centre County on College Avenue in State College.

We help taxpayers resolve tax debts through a variety of ways including, but not limited to, installment agreements, applications to settle the debt for a smaller amount and requests to make the account non-collectable. Our LITC also assists taxpayers with missing refunds, identity theft and innocent spouse applications. The best part about our services is that for those who qualify, our services are free. Additionally, we not only help taxpayers with IRS issues, but we also help them with Pennsylvania income tax issues. If you have a tax problem, please call our office toll free at 844-675-7829.

Rebecca Stavish is the low-income taxpayer clinic attorney at MidPenn Legal Services, which is a Centre County United Way Partner Agency.