Only a few days remain until Tax Day!
Tax Day this year is Tuesday, April 18, 2017.
Whether you still need to file your taxes (don’t panic!) or just want to get a head start on preparing for next year’s tax season, keep reading. This blog will give you resources to help you file your taxes on time and in the most cost-effective way. You’ll learn about free tax preparation programs (that are actually free!) and tax credits that may apply to you.
Free Tax Prep That’s Actually Free
Many workers struggle with understanding their taxes, and, unfortunately, tax preparation services can cost a lot of money ($50-$500), which cuts into your potential refund. Free tax preparation is an essential way that people with disabilities and those with low- to moderate-incomes can save money when filing taxes.
All of the resources listed below are safe, secure and completely free options that qualified individuals can use to file their taxes.
- IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
- Those who make $54,000 or less per year and need assistance preparing their own tax returns can use the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offered by the IRS. All VITA volunteers are IRS-certified and provide free basic income tax preparation. VITA sites are located across the country at convenient sites all around you, such as libraries, churches, schools, malls and more. VITA volunteers are familiar with money-saving tax credits, such as the EITC, Child Tax Credit, Credit for the Elderly and Disabled. These are all tax credits can help low-income people improve their financial well-being. Find a VITA location near you.
- My Free Taxes
- Those with incomes of $64,000 or less are eligible to use MyFreeTaxes.com, which offers safe and secure electronic filing with live customer support. MyFreeTaxes is a great option for people who have the ability to file their taxes online but maybe need a little bit of assistance while doing so. The service is sponsored by United Way and H&R Block.
- AARP Tax-Aide
- You don’t need to be over 50 years old to get tax help from AARP. The AARP Foundation Tax Aide program offers free tax prep to people of all ages – at more than 5,000 locations nationwide! AARP membership is not required. Find a Tax Aide location near you.
It’s worthwhile to note that even if your income is over the listed limit for these programs, you might still be able to use them. You may need to pay an added fee, but overall, these programs could still be a cheaper option than others for filing your taxes.
Tax Credits That Can Cut You a Break
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is available to low and moderate-income working families and individuals. The EITC gives working families the boost they need to make rent or mortgage payments; buy food, medicine and other essentials; improve their quality of life; and contribute to the economy. The credit changes every year and is based on factors such as earnings, number of qualifying children and marital status. To claim the EITC, a tax return must be filed with the IRS with proper documentation. Find out if you qualify to claim the EITC.
The EITC is often regarded as one of the most effective anti-poverty initiatives set up by the federal government. And yet, it’s underutilized.
Each year, billions of dollars go unclaimed because individuals do not claim tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or do not file a tax return. People with disabilities often worry that tax credits like the EITC will endanger their Medicaid eligibility. They are afraid to receive a tax refund because it might impact their public benefits. However, filing a tax return and claiming these credits will not affect your eligibility for benefits like SNAP, SSI, Medicaid, cash assistance or public housing. If you save money from your tax refund, it will not count against federally-funded benefit program resource/asset limits for 12 months after the refund is received. This means that a person has a year to spend the money from their tax return before it will impact their public benefits. Learn more.
Do you have additional questions about taxes? Check out National Disability Institute’s online tax toolkit.
This is the second blog in a six-part series that National Disability Institute (NDI) will be publishing throughout the month of April – National Financial Capability Month. This blog series (Your Financial Capability Roadmap) will cover five key strategies that help people reach financial well-being. Those five key areas are: Public Benefits and Work Supports, Employment, Free Tax Preparation and EITC, Financial Education, and Asset Development.
Read Part 1 of the series.
Our next blog (Part 3) will take a look at public benefits and work supports.