Consumer News: Keeping money in your pocket this tax season

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The start of tax season is upon us, so let’s start with some ways to keep money in your pocket.

First, lots of people qualify to file their taxes for free. To see if you are one of them check out the IRS website and click on the tab that read “Free Tax Preparation Help”. After that all you have to do is plug in your zip code.

The IRS website is also the place where you can e-file for free.

To qualify, you must make less than $66,000 a year.

But if you would prefer to get help in person, the United Way has several sites offering free, tax prep, including super sites at Hickory Ridge and Southland Mall.

Impact America is also offering tax prep for free at places like the Binghampton Development Corporation and Soulsville Town Center.

For those who would rather pay someone else to file for you, please choose a preparer wisely.

Check the person’s credentials and don’t go anywhere that’s going to charge extremely high fees and promises a big refund in return.

It’s also a good idea to find a place that’s going to be open year round in case you have problems.

While we’re talking about saving money, let’s be sure to keep it from the crooks too.

This week is also Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week.

To avoid identity theft keep an eye out for common scams like the fake IRS employees calling, guard your personal information both on paper and online, and secure your financial documents like social security cards.

The Federal Trade Commission is hosting a webinar Friday at noon and a Twitter chat at 2 p.m. about tax-related identity theft.