CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — It may only be January, but we’re already talking taxes. It’s the time of year to start gathering your paperwork and thinking back to this past year.
January 29 is the official start of the 2024 tax season. This means you can start filing your returns online and the IRS will begin accepting and processing them.
Eric Chaney, a tax preparer in Champaign, has been helping people navigate their own taxes for years. Once you have all the right documentation, he suggests filing as soon as possible.
“If you happen to be one of those who falls in a situation where you end up owing, that gives you more time to come up with the money so you can pay the IRS debt,” he explained.
This is the second year the IRS is operating with pre-COVID tax laws.
“This year it’s kicking more into effect,” Chaney said. “What we’re seeing is as a general rule bc of it, tax refunds are down, people were expecting to get huge refunds and things like that.”
So, if you’re getting ready to crunch the numbers yourself, he recommends gathering all of your documents and having your photo ID ready to go.
The IRS is trying to make it easier this year with more in-person hours, better service and improved online tools. Chaney said the service hired more customer service reps.
That’s something that makes preparers like him smile from ear to ear.
“It makes our lives so much easier because we get calls all the time like ‘where’s my money’ some people think we’re the IRS, no we work for you, not the IRS,” Chaney said.
The tax deadline is April 15th. The IRS expects more than 146 million individual tax returns to be filed. For help and resources, follow this link.
There are a few groups in Central Illinois who want to help. One of those is the U of I’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. Gies College of Business students will host a free program at Salt and Light in Urbana. It starts on Feb. 1 and runs through Tax Day. For hours and drop-off information, click here.
The Housing Authority of Champaign County is also working with VITA. They’re hosting a free online workshop on January 31st at 4 p.m. For details and registration information, visit their Facebook page.