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As federal tax filing deadline nears, expert offers tips and resources

By Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton

Tax season is nigh and Carissa Johnson is ready for it.

A tax specialist with Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Johnson has more than 20 years of experience preparing individual income tax returns. With the April 15 federal filing deadline looming, Johnson’s single biggest piece of advice: Have all of your documents in hand first, even if that means waiting on a slow employer.

“You must have a W-2 to do tax stuff,” she said. “You must make sure all 1099s have come in if you get them and sometimes that’s not until February. It is better to have them all together then have to go back and amend. I’ve had that experience with clients before.”

With an office in a new location at the First National Bank (130 E MacArthur, Suite 206, Shawnee, OK 74804), Johnson is available via appointment to help CPN employees with their tax returns. Unlike some commercial tax preparation businesses, her office does not do instant tax refunds.

“That is technically a loan and the places that do them can charge you dearly,” she said. “My mentor and I decided when they first came out that we wouldn’t do them, as it is just not good financial advice to give to a client.”

Additionally, the Internal Revenue Service offers two free, need-based programs to help with federal income tax preparation. Taxpayers with an income of $56,000 or less can receive help through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, while elders can participate in the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program.

As of press time, the IRS has not announced VITA and TCE sites for 2020. The can be found at cpn.news/taxsites.

Appointments with Carissa Johnson, which are required, are available at 405-395-0113, ext. 4338 or carissa.johnson@potawatomi.org.