Welcome to the Monmouth College VITA
Puzzled by the tax law or which credits and deductions to take? Need assistance with your tax return at no cost to you?
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is an IRS program designed to assist low income taxpayers ($51,000 and below) file their tax returns. Volunteers are Monmouth College students that have been trained and certified by the IRS to prepare tax returns. They can help you with special credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Child Tax Credit, education credits such as the American Opportunity Tax and Lifetime Learning Credits, and the Credit for the Elderly.
In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, we offer free electronic filing. You can expect refunds in half the time compared to returns filed on paper – even faster if you have your refund deposited directly into your bank account.
The service is provided on a first-come, first served basis and your returns are prepared while you wait. We can prepare and electronically file both your federal and Illinois state returns.
Of Interest for the 2013 Federal Tax Return:
Exemption Amounts Increase from $3,800 to $3,900
Standard Deduction Amounts Increased.
The amount depends on your filing status, whether you are 65 or older or blind, and whether an exemption can be claimed for you by another taxpayer. The basic standard deduction amounts for 2013 are:
Head of household -- $8,950 (up from $8,700)
Married taxpayers filing jointly and qualifying widow(er)s -- $12,200 (up from $11,900)
Single and Married taxpayers filing separately -- $6,100 (up from $5,950)
The standard deduction amount for an individual who may be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer is the smaller of the taxpayer’s normal standard deduction (per filing status) or the sum of $350 and the individual’s earned income, but not lower than $1,000. This is up from 2012.
The American Opportunity Tax Credit is the Same as for 2012
It is available for the first four years of post-secondary education rather than two, as was the case prior to 2010. The maximum amount of credit is $2,500 per eligible student and includes required course materials to the list of qualifying expenses (in addition to tuition and fees). In addition, 40% of this credit may be refundable, meaning that if the taxpayer does not have a tax liability, a refund is still possible. Expenses are deemed paid by the taxpayer taking the dependency exemption for the qualified student.
Tuition and Fees Deduction Available for 2013
It is available for tuition and fees in a post-secondary education institution up to $4,000. If the expenses are not for the taxpayer or spouse, the taxpayer must be claiming a dependency exemption for the student. Nondependent students can claim the deduction on their own returns even if paid by another person: deemed gift.
First Time Homebuyer Credit No Longer Available after 2010.
However, for those who bought a home in 2008 and received a credit, the taxpayer should have begun repayment in 2010 that will continue over a 15-year period. Form 5405 is used to determine the repayment.
Definition of Qualifying Child
To be a qualifying child, the child must be younger than the taxpayer, unless the child is permanently and totally disabled. If the parents of a child can claim the child as a qualifying child but neither parent claims the child, no other eligible person can claim the child as a qualifying child unless that person’s AGI is higher than the highest AGI of any parent of the child. A taxpayer’s child is a qualifying child for purposes of the child tax credit only if the taxpayer can and does claim an exemption for the child.
Rules for Children of Divorced or Separated Parents
This applies to the noncustodial parent in situations where a couple is divorced or legally separated after 2008. To claim a child as a dependent, the noncustodial parent must attach Form 8332 to his or her tax return, rather than certain pages from the divorce decree or separation agreement. For pre-2009 divorces and separations, the noncustodial spouse still has the option of attaching those pages.
Increased Earned Income Credit Benefits Depending Upon Earned Income
$3,250 with one qualifying child (up from $3,169)
$5,372 with two qualifying children (up from $5,236)
$6,044 with three or more qualifying children (up from $5,891)
$487 with no qualifying child (up from $475)
Those whose investment income is more than $3,300 cannot claim this credit.
The information covered on our web site is not intended as tax advice nor should it be construed as tax advice. Monmouth College volunteers are not professional tax advisors and cannot give tax advice. For tax advice assistance, contact a professional tax advisor.