Need to prepare DC or Maryland, but not federal?
- District of Columbia. If you only need to file to obtain the “Schedule H” tax credit (or already have a copy of your federal return), you can go directly to the Office of Tax and Revenue for DC tax preparation assistance. For hours of operation see: http://otr.cfo.dc.gov/service/customer-service-center
- Maryland. If you already have a copy of your federal return, you can go directly to the Comptroller of Maryland for Maryland tax preparation assistance. For locations and hours see: http://taxes.marylandtaxes.com/Resource_Library/Taxpayer_Assistance/Contact_Information/Local_Offices_and_Directions.shtml
Free Online Assistance
If you earned less than $64,000 in 2016, you can prepare and electronically file your 2016 federal and state tax returns on-line for free at http://ctadc.org/file-online/ between mid-January and October 15th.
Tax Season Assistance
From February to mid-April, CTA provides free tax preparation services to individuals with no more than $35,000 in income and families with no more than $54,000 in income. This free service is provided by trained volunteers. Our volunteers are students, accountants, lawyers, administrators, community volunteers, and interpreters, who dedicate countless hours to our programs. From February to April, our volunteers prepare taxes at our sites, which are located in Northern Virginia, D.C., and Montgomery County and Prince George’s County in Maryland.
See links to the left or below for information on locations, eligibility, and what to bring.
Need to Choose a Paid Preparer?
Qualifications to Prepare Tax Returns.
In most states, the only requirement to become a paid preparer is to register with the IRS and obtain a PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number), but there is NO test of tax return preparation knowledge to obtain a PTIN.
Before Choosing a Preparer:
- Check their credentials. For more information see: http://www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Choosing-a-Tax-Professional
- Select a tax preparer that you can contact later in case the IRS has questions about your tax return.
- Ask your friends, family and community members for recommendations. You can also research the tax preparer with your local Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) to see if any complaints have been filed.
- Ask about fees to have your taxes prepared before scheduling an appointment. Be sure to ask if there are any fees for additional schedules or forms, like the Schedule EIC, used to claim the Earned Income Credit.
While at a Tax Preparer:
- Do not leave originals of documents with a tax preparer if he or she needs to work on your tax return when you are not present.
- Avoid a tax preparer who suggests you lie or make up information. You will be held responsible for errors, NOT the preparer.
- Do not sign a blank tax return or a return completed in pencil. Sign a tax return in pen, only after you’ve reviewed and understand it. Check names, addresses, Social Security numbers and wage information. Ask questions to understand the reason for any refund you get or taxes that you owe.
- Check to make sure the tax preparer signs the return. The tax preparer must include their name, address and Preparer Identification Number (PTIN). (If you go to a free VITA or AARP site, the site will “sign” the return by filling in the PTIN.)
- Request a copy of your completed tax return. Write down the preparer’s phone number to call if you have additional questions about your tax return later.
Missed Tax Season?
CTA and other local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs provide post-season tax assistance. Check back here after April 18th for more information.
Community Tax Aid does not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, and reprisal for previous civil rights activities. CTA will make every effort to provide reasonable accommodations to persons with physical disabilities, sensory loss, or limited English proficiency. These accommodations will be provided at no cost to the taxpayer.