April 17 is the last day to file your federal and state taxes (in California)  on time this year— is not that far away. And there may be more questions than usual about what can and should be done for federal and state taxes, especially for victims of the November fires up and down the state, including the Creek Fire the burned through parts of Sylmar.

Sylmar resident and Enrolled Agent Robert Woodford is hosting a free event Tax Help Day on Saturday, Feb. 3, at American Legion Post No. 176 in the City of San Fernando for taxpayers seeking up-to-date information on how to prepare their 2017 tax forms. The event, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is also sponsored by the California Society of Enrolled Agents (CSEA) and its 19 chapters.

An enrolled tax agent is one who is qualified to represent taxpayers in disputes before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is the highest credential awarded by the IRS.

This is the fifth year of the free event.

Woodford is expecting many inquiries from those who sustained casualty losses from the fires. He said victims could qualify for extended deadlines and tax relief, and there are a variety of tax strategies they can use to deduct casualty losses on their returns.

“When they have a nationally declared disaster (the IRS) lets taxpayers file amended returns from the year before if they want, or go ahead and file for the current year,” Woodford said, adding. “the state (Franchise Tax Board) is pursing a similar procedure.”

In addition, the state’s expanded Earned Income Tax Credit is expected to be available to as many as 1.1 million more families. People who work for an employer or are self-employed are now eligible for CalEITC. In addition, for the first time, a family making the state minimum wage may now qualify for CalEITC. That means those earning $22,300 or less could be eligible. 

Woodford said representatives will also answer questions regarding tax reform, Obamacare, running your own business, and more. 

The men and women representatives on hand will not prepare your tax forms for you, Woodford said, but will answer any and all questions, and provide tips on ways to get the best returns.

For those who wanted to pre-pay their 2018 property taxes due to changes in the law recently passed by Congress, Woodford said those filings had to be done by the end of the year but there may still be time. He expects to have a definitive answer on Saturday.

Woodford also wanted to remind people that most of the new tax changes will be applicable in 2019 when people file their 2018 taxes.

Normally federal taxes must by filed by April 15 to be on time. But April 15 this year falls on a Sunday, and April 16 is a legal holiday (Emancipation Day) in Washington, D.C., which moved this year’s deadline to April 17.

Individual states can set their own deadlines for filing.

The IRS began accepting electronically filed tax returns on Jan. 4. They started processing those and all returns on Monday, Jan. 29.

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