What are you looking for?
If you are looking for something specific on this site, type a couple of words in the search box. Or, you can click on the word SEARCH found in the upper right corner of this and every other page. The search engine will try to find what you are looking for anywhere on this site.
Many of you may already have skill in searching a pdf (a document) on your computer. Because of the number of publications we use for research, its a good plan to obtain a little guidance on how to find what you are looking for AND quickly.
This website is designed with the needs of Maine tax preparation volunteers in mind. It is roughly segmented into three categories or sections. These categories are displayed horizontally along the top of each page.
This section contains information helpful in navigating the steps that are taken to become an IRS certified volunteer.
Here you will find descriptions of the new forms, discussions on the new tax deductions and credits (like QBI & CTC), and some of the persistently confusing tax calculations & software inputs related to pension income, preparing returns for Ride-share drivers or reading a brokerage tax statement.
This section is devoted to issues that arise from differences that exist between Federal tax law and Maine tax law. In general, Maine conforms to the federal laws but when they don’t it can become a challenge keeping order.
The content on this site is intended to give insight on a variety of topics and provide a collection of links to websites & online resources that we visit year after year for our annual training.
Since we use online applications to take our certification tests, those links are provided in the TRAINING section.
During the tax season, we continue to access some of these sites to prepare taxpayer returns and answer questions that may come up. Many of these sites are referenced throughout the pages of the FEDERAL & MAINE sections.
For convenience, ALL of these sites are warehoused together on the JUST LINKS! page.
Also, the SEARCH feature will allow you to search this site.
This is located at the top of each page in the far right corner of the horizontal menu. There are a few SEARCH boxes scattered on various pages but you can always use the SEARCH feature at the top of the page.
Volunteer Opportunity! If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and would like to be contacted for more information, you can sign up to become a volunteer with AARP Tax-Aide here.
Finally, you will find explanations on this site about areas of taxation that present the most complexity or confusion to both preparers and taxpayers. These discussions are presented to give some perspective, primarily to get a ‘foothold’ in your understanding. To guide your decision making, you must only use authoritative sources, IRS Publications and Instructions for federal tax guidance, and Maine Revenue instructions for state tax guidance.
Becoming an IRS Certified Tax-Aide Volunteer
October 2018 - The IRS promoted their Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program this summer in Tax Tip 2018-109. They list some of the many reasons people become tax volunteers. What they do not mention is the high degree of satisfaction the volunteers feel. Volunteers look forward to returning each tax season and there is an extremely low attrition rate from one year to the next.
There are a number of tasks to perform besides preparing taxes. At the tax sites, volunteers greet taxpayers and perform some intake tasks. From home, volunteers work the phones to book appointments. So, if taxes aren’t your thing but you like meeting new people or you happen to be a technology genius and you have some time to devote to this worthwhile endeavor please reach out. We’d love to hear from you. Click this link for Volunteer Opportunity!
Ok. About training. Tax-Aide training is quite flexible. You can educate yourself entirely with the online resources or you might attend every single live, in-classroom training session. You might choose a mix of both styles. The Training Section of this site explains the various IRS publications available for training and their online training site called Link & Learn
Many online resources exist to help a prospective volunteer acquire adequate training and knowledge to pass the various IRS certification tests.
NOT LIVE AT THIS TIME. In addition to all of the online resources, classroom training is conducted in early January in preparation for the upcoming tax season. Here is a calendar of times and locations [You may discover this is a password protected area of the our site.]
Preparing a Federal Individual Tax Return
So, you’ve accepted the challenge and now you are ready to prepare a tax return.
Most calculations are accomplished by the tax software. Guided by the screen instructions & menu selections in the tax software, you will enter the information you see on the various forms the taxpayer has presented to you and, presto, that component of the return is complete.
However, sometimes we use outside links or trusted calculators to arrive at proper determinations for our entries into the software. For example, the IRS has a series of Interactive Assistants for assisting our decision-making on filing status or claiming a dependent. Also, a fellow volunteer in Colorado, Jeff Bogart, devised a series of calculators that are extremely useful in decision-making on a number of other topics like Education Credits, the taxable portion of pensions, or the ACA. In this section you will find a description & discussion of some of the common situations we handle. Also, there is an accumulation of commonly used sites that were designed to create efficiencies in tax preparation.
Completing the Maine Individual Tax Return
In general, Maine tax law conforms with Federal tax laws but there are some differences. Treatment for these differences are discussed in this section. Commonly accessed links are provided here.