Get a Free Second Look: Recover Tax Refunds You’re Due
February 15, 2012 : Teresa L. Clark - Corporate Communications
You know how when you lose something, you retrace your steps to find it? Well, H&R Block offers Second LookSM reviews of past year returns to ensure taxpayers received the maximum refund they were entitled. Through April, participating offices are offering these reviews for FREE.
Right now, H&R Block tax professionals are reviewing 2008, 2009 and 2010 returns the company did not prepare. If variances are found, your H&R Block tax professional will offer advice on what to do.
“No matter the amount, people always like to have a little extra change in their pocket,” said Phil Mazzini, retail tax president at H&R Block. “It’s their money; we’re just helping them get it back.”
As you have probably seen on the TV commercials, H&R Block offered all Detroit residents free Second Looks at their tax returns earlier this year. As a result, the company recovered more than $100,000 in overlooked tax credits and deductions. Following are some of the tax mistakes H&R Block tax professionals saw frequently in Detroit – and are seeing all over the country:
Selecting the wrong filing status
Filing status impacts the value of some tax credits and deductions. For example, a family in Detroit received an additional $5,498 from their Second Look review by changing their filing status from married filing separately to married filing jointly.
Forgetting or misunderstanding education tax breaks
For some people, education tax breaks can be a great way to save some money. The American Opportunity Credit allows taxpayers to claim $2,500 for each of the first four years of college education for each student. The Tuition and Fees Deduction provides a reduction in gross income of up to $4,000 based on post-secondary education expenses paid during the year. The Lifetime Learning Credit is worth up to $2,000 per return for either post-secondary degree programs or for courses taken to acquire or improve job skills. Many people forget about education tax breaks and if they remember them they might not realize that the three of them cannot be combined (for the same student). And if you’re married filing separately you aren’t eligible for any of these tax breaks. Things like this can make it beneficial to get advice from a tax professional.
After an H&R Block Second Look review, Detroiter Russell Gismonde, part-time student and restaurant manager, was able to receive an additional $1,135. Doing his tax return online, Gismonde claimed the Lifetime Learning Credit. His Second Look showed that claiming the Hope Credit instead was better for him.
“I’ve always done my own taxes. It’s not too hard, so I thought,” Gismonde said. “Every penny I can get would really help; the plan is to have my own business someday.”
Overlooking the Earned Income Tax Credit
The Earned Income Tax Credit, which is worth up to $5,751 for tax year 2011, is frequently overlooked by eligible low-income earners. In fact, 1 in 5 who are eligible don’t claim it. This could be because eligibility is not static; financial, marital and parental changes can cause a taxpayer to be ineligible one year and eligible the next.
Not all tax returns are prepared accurately and some mistakes can lead to paying more than you really owe in taxes. Even if you can’t imagine what could have been overlooked on your past tax returns (which is actually all the more reason to check it out), getting a Second Look with an H&R Block tax professional could recover the tax refund you were due.