MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Mare Spengler plans to file her taxes in the upcoming weeks.

“I think I’m going to do online,” she said. “I do that every year.”

The East Memphis resident doesn’t want to risk filing them herself and making a mistake.

“It makes me more comfortable to go to someone that’s affordable who knows what they’re doing,” she said. “Because I don’t!”


Free options

If you make less than $60,000 a year, you can file your taxes for free with United Way.

From West Memphis to Cordova, you can find a list of locations here.

“If you want all of that money to come straight to you, you should come to one of our perfectly free tax sites,” said Matthew Hein, a United Way program manager for financial stability.

He recommends bringing all necessary documentation, including a picture ID, social security card and last year’s tax return. If you have a spouse, bring them as well.

“We do accurate returns,” he said. “We are monitored by the IRS.”

The IRS offers contact information for a number of other free services here, to include various churches and businesses offering to help.


Vetting businesses

The Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South recommends researching a business ahead of time, whether that’s on the BBB website or through online reviews.

“Before you agree to any services, read the contracts carefully and understand how much the tax preparer charges for their services,” said Toddnetta Trice, a BBB spokeswoman.

She also recommends asking family or friends for referrals. Some predatory businesses will promise a tax refund today at an exorbitant price.

“If things don't add up, find someone else,” she said. “If a tax preparer can’t verify their credentials, has a record of bad reviews or previous clients, or their business practices don't seem convincing, don't do business with them.”

Many tax situations won’t require the experience of a certified public accountant, but they can be helpful for complicated situations.

“It really just comes down to peace of mind,” said Orin Wilson, a partner at Memphis Advisory Group. “You know, if you have somebody who's trusted and experienced and in this field, you're making sure you're in compliance. They can save you as much as possible.”


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