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IF YOUR TAX RETURN IS ROUTINE, a national tax service may be for you. These chains maintain franchise offices all over the country and the main advantage is convenience. During tax time, offices may be open nights, weekends, and on a drop-in, first-come, first-served basis. Each company has a set fee schedule with cost being determined by the number of forms and lines that are filed. If you own a personal computer, you may consider using IRS e-file. Using your computer, modem and tax preparation software that offers the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) e-file option, you can prepare and electronically file your tax return information from home. IF YOUR TAX RETURN IS COMPLICATED, you may want to hire an enrolled agent, certified public accountant (CPA) or a tax attorney. These tax preparers have more specialized training and, in case of an audit, may represent you before the IRS. Tax attorneys and CPAs also may be able to give advice on tax and financial planning. CONSUMERS SHOULD BE WARY OF COMPANIES that promise the 'biggest refund' without even seeing your tax information. Fees should be based on the complexity of the return, never on the size of the tax savings or refund. Some preparers offer immediate payment of your return, for a fee. Keep in mind that this is a loan, often accompanied by high interest rates. This loan is known as a Refund Anticipation Loan. If you decide to accept this offer, make sure that you are aware of and accept all terms. Read the fine print before signing any agreement. No matter who prepares your tax return, it is still your responsibility. Do not sign the return unless you are certain it is accurate. The IRS offers free assistance at 1-800-TAX-1040 or you may wish to visit their website at: Texas Tech University School of Law operates the Low-Income Tax Clinic (LITC) which is designed to help law students in practical experience in the practice of law and at the same time, provides legal services to low-income taxpayers who otherwise would not have access to such services. To find out of you would be eligible, call 806-742-4312 or 1-800-420-8037.

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