It’s the first official day of tax filing season

It’s the first official day of tax filing season

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - It's that time again when some of you get money back from uncle Sam or you may have to give money back to the government.

Either way, today is day one of tax filing season.

If you plan to do your taxes yourself or sit down at a place to have someone else do it, you'll want to make sure, you file smart, you're not getting scammed and most importantly keeping more money in your pocket instead of giving it back.

Filing your taxes on the internet is becoming more popular, but that could put you at risk for scams and refund theft.

Do your taxes early because the longer you wait to do your taxes, the longer someone has to steal your social security number, your identity and your money.

Make sure you have all the right documents for the maximum refund.

Paying with a check or money order is the best option instead of a credit card.

If you know you can't pay everything you owe, the worst thing you can do, is to do nothing because interest fees and penalties will follow.

An extension is only an extension to file information not an extension to pay.

Finding the right preparer is key, but if you're still the person who wants to do it all on your own at least start with talking to a professional about a free consultation so the final return you see is the same as theirs.

"To make sure people know what they're eligible for and why and why not because there are different changes every year, there's lot of credits that may not be new, but perhaps they been opened to a broader audience, we want to make sure you're getting every dime that you can," Liberty Tax Expert Samantha Slapnik said.

The IRS says the average American could be missing out on thousands of extra dollars in tax credits -simply because people don't take advantage of them.

But if you don't fill out your forms correctly it could cost you and your preparer more money.

If you sit down with a professional you may find that a credit, like having three kids up to 16 years old could add a 1,000-dollar credit to your taxes.

That additional child tax credit is one of three Internal Revenue Service is really focusing this year.

As well as the earned income credit and the American opportunity credit.

When you have your taxes filed, if those credits pertain to you make sure you see the 8867 form.

That's the form preparers have to file with those credits.

It's a long list of questions specific to those credits.

This year, if you're caught lying or don't fill credits out appropriately the IRS will fine you for a fraudulent return.

We're talking 500 dollars per credit.

"We could be fined 1500 per return if those are found to be fraudulent returns, so we spend a lot of time going through that due diligence asking for documentation, asking questions to make sure everything is consistent, complete and correct," Slapnik said.

If it's not in your budget to pay someone to do your taxes, head over to Coastal Carolina University starting February 14th.

Accounting students will file your taxes free of charge if you make less than $54,000 a year.

The deadline to file your taxes is April 18.

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