Georgia Gwinnett College professor shares vital tax season info for prospective filers

Cathy McCrary pic

Dr. Cathy Mc Crary 

By Collin Elder

Tax season is a hectic and stressful time of the year for many people. Dr. Cathy McCrary, assistant professor of accounting at Georgia Gwinnett College, has some important tips.

McCrary said that tax season, while tumultuous for some, is really fairly simple for most people. 

“When it comes to tax preparation, employees with side jobs, the self-employed and business owners generally have more to keep track of than people who work for one employer,” she said.

That may sound intimidating, but what’s important to keep in mind is that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers tools to facilitate the tax filing process. 

One such tool, available at the IRS website is the Tax Withholding Estimator that helps filers more accurately complete form W-4 Employee’s Withholding Certificate to control the amount of federal income tax withheld from one’s paycheck. 

“It’s ideal to avoid having too little or too much tax withheld. Although some might enjoy having a big refund, a small or zero refund means having more of your money in your pocket during the year instead of waiting to get it back after filing your tax return,” said McCrary.

For those nervous about filing on their own, the IRS offers the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA, which provides free tax preparation and tax counseling services for those who qualify. Additionally, the IRS Free File program, a partnership between the IRS and industry leaders in tax preparation services, delivers free online preparation and filing of federal tax returns to qualifying taxpayers. Free File Fillable Forms are available to all taxpayers at no cost.

“Just make sure you’re being safe” said McCrary, in reference to identity theft risks. “If you want to use the Free File Program, then access a Free File partner via the IRS website. Be wary of cyber criminals’ ability to spoof entire websites.”

Filers should submit taxes when they receive their required documents, for a number of reasons. Along with receiving their refunds sooner, submitting early could be the difference between having taxes commandeered by a cybercriminal and making sure they’re safe from cyber theft.

At the end of the day, however, McCrary said it shouldn’t feel like a race to complete tax forms.

“It’s important to get started. When preparing your taxes online, you can always save what you’ve done and come back to complete it later.”

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