Tax time is important for many people – even if you normally do not have a requirement to file, it may be an opportunity to receive a large payment through a tax refund! But filing taxes can be confusing and stressful. This page will help you prepare for tax season and offer advice and resources, including opportunities to file your taxes at NO cost to you.
Filing your federal taxes, even if you have not filed in the past or are not required to do so, may allow you to get back money you did not know you were eligible to receive.
You may receive a refund from money withheld from your paycheck, you may be eligible for tax credits you did not know were available to you such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Child Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Credit and the Saver’s Tax Credit. If you were eligible for a recovery rebate credit and either didn’t receive Economic Impact Payments (EIP), or received less than the full amounts, then you must file either a 2020 ( for first or second EIP) or 2021 (for third EIP) tax return to claim the credit even if you don’t usually file. Learn more about filing your taxes in 2023, increased tax benefits you may be eligible for and reasons why e-file is best.
Receiving a Federal tax refund will not affect your public benefits for up to 12 months. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) excludes all Federal tax refunds and advanced tax credits from resource counting for a period of 12 months after the month of receipt.
Tax time is important for many people as it may be an opportunity to receive their largest payment of the year through their tax refund. It can also be confusing and stressful for many. Prepare in advance to help reduce your stress and get you ready to file your taxes.
Gather your tax records, including your tax records from last year, both Federal and state if applicable, and important documents related to your taxes. You may be able to view some of your account information online with the IRS by visiting: irs.gov/payments/view-your-tax-account.
Documents to Gather
Examples of additional important tax documents to gather may include:
- Social Security numbers for yourself, spouse and all dependents
- Income forms such as a W-2*
- Social Security benefit statements
- Photo ID(s)
- Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents
- Bank and routing numbers for your direct deposit of your refund
- 2020 and 2021 tax returns if you have them
- 1099 forms from banks or other payers
- Documents regarding other types of income
- Health insurance forms
* Don’t forget most income is taxable, including: unemployment income, refund interest and virtual currencies
If you plan to visit an IRS VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance side) use Publication 3676-B to reference services that may be provided and check out What to Bring to ensure you have all the required documents and information our volunteers will need to help you
Have a safe, affordable and sustainable bank account. Direct deposit is the fastest and safest way to get your refund and any potential additional Economic Impact Payments that might be made in the future. Don’t have a bank account currently? Learn more about how to open an account.
Get ready for taxes: What’s new and what to consider when filing in 2023
Free File Opportunities
There are multiple ways for you to file your taxes at no cost to you and your family if you meet eligibility requirements. Free filing services are generally available to low- and moderate-income (LMI) persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speakers. However, eligibility requirements do vary, so please confirm prior to preparing and filing your taxes. Keep in mind you don’t have to be an expert to do your own taxes and you don’t have to do it alone. There are many free tax preparation options to help you get your refund and all the credits you’ve earned.
The following organizations are available online or by phone to assist any individual that qualifies:
- GetYourRefund.org can assist you in finding options to have your state and federal tax returns filed in-person, online with assistance or through self-preparation at NO cost to you. Also available in Spanish.
- Visit MyFreeTaxes.com or call 866-698-9435 to receive assistance filing your federal and state taxes for free either through self-filing options or with assistance online or in-person. Also available in Spanish.
- Get It Back: Tax Credits for People Who Work helps eligible individuals claim tax credits and use free tax filing assistance to maximize tax time.
- United Way 2-1-1 can assist you find local tax preparation or other resources online or by calling/texting 211 (local) or 1-844-322-3639 (National Helpline).
- IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals.*
- IRS Free File lets you prepare and file your federal income tax online using guided tax preparation, at an IRS partner site or through free fillable forms. It’s safe, easy and no cost to you for a federal return.
- MilTax online software is also available for the members of military and certain veterans, regardless of income, and is offered through the Department of Defense.
Remember, the safest and fastest way to get a tax refund is to combine electronic filing with Direct Deposit!
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs are still offering a variety of tax preparation options in 2023 including virtual tax preparation, drop-off services and facilitated self-preparation. Available services can vary at each site due to the availability of volunteers certified with the tax law expertise required for your return. Some VITA sites may offer CAA services to taxpayers along with their VITA program. See if there is a VITA program near you and call to confirm services prior to visiting any locations listed.
To avoid fees for state tax returns, taxpayers should look for a software provider that offers free state tax return preparation. People can also check their state’s tax agency website to see if the state is a member of the State Free File program.
Federal Tax Deadlines
January 23, 2023 will begin the IRS’s 2023 tax season as they begin accepting and processing 2022 income tax returns.
*Tuesday, April 18 (not the usual April 15 date, because of the weekend and due to Emancipation Day holiday which falls on Monday, April 17 in Washington, D.C.) is the last day of the regular filing season without an extension.
Learn more about refund timing and what to expect in advance of the April 18* tax deadline.
Need more time?
You may ask for an extension to file up to October 16. REMEMBER: an extension to file is not an extension to pay the taxes you owe, penalties and interest will apply if you owe taxes. Find out more about what to do if you can’t pay what you owe by April 18.
Don’t lose a possible refund by not filing. If you know you don’t OWE any taxes, there’s no requirement to file an extension and you can still file a tax return after the April 18 deadline if a refund is due to you. Taxpayers are encouraged to use electronic filing options including IRS Free File which is available on IRS.gov through October 16 to prepare and file 2022 tax returns electronically. Some people choose not to file a tax return because they didn’t earn enough money to be required to file, but if you do not file you may miss out on a refund or any tax credits for which you may be eligible.
Learn more about navigating the process and completing your return
The Fastest and Safest Way to Receive a Tax Refund
Direct Deposit is the safest and fastest way to receive a tax refund. Setting up direct deposit is not just quicker and more secure, it’s also a particularly good solution if you don’t have an address where you can reliably receive mail. If you do not have a bank or credit union account, you can explore account options that are safe, affordable, insured and can be opened remotely .
Electronic filing (E-file), including Free File, is the best way to avoid paper processing delays. E-file is faster, easier and more accurate than filing a paper return. Choosing E-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest and safest way to file a complete and accurate income tax return and receive a refund. Most E-filers get their refunds faster and it is often free.
Eligibility for Certain Tax Credits
Learn more and ask questions when preparing your taxes about valuable tax credits that you may be eligible to receive such as:
- The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) helps low- to moderate-income workers and families get a tax break. If you qualify, you can use the credit to reduce the taxes you owe – and maybe increase your refund, including persons with disabilities. There are a lot of myths around the EITC, if you qualify don’t miss out on this valuable credit.
- The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is a tax credit with a maximum of $2,000 per qualifying child, of which up to $1,500 is refundable. Learn more about the Child Tax Credit, if you’re eligible, and how to claim the credit.
- If you paid someone to care for your child (or another qualifying person you care for) so you (and your spouse if filing jointly) could work or look for work, you may be able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit, a credit for child and dependent care expenses.
- Learn about potential Disability Tax Benefits.
- Education tax credits help with the cost of higher education by reducing the amount of tax owed on your tax return for eligible students. There are two education credits available and each have criteria that much be met.
- Saver’s Credit is available to eligible individuals making eligible contributions toward their retirement through an IRA, employer-sponsored retirement plan or an ABLE account.
- Additional questions about the Recovery Rebate Credit visit IRS’s Frequently Asked Questions page.
Other Tips to Keep in Mind…
Remember, if you received unemployment compensation it is taxable. Some people may have received a Form 1099-G from the agency paying the benefit to them, but some states do not mail this form and you may need to get the electronic version from your state’s website. If you suspect identity theft involving unemployment benefits, the IRS offers guidance on this topic.
IRS offers information and resources in a variety of multilingual and alternative formats.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS. Their job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly and that you know and understand your rights. Advocates can help if you have tax problems that you can’t resolve on your own.
Beware of scams! Keep in mind that the IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Recognize the telltale signs of a scam, how to report tax scams and how to know if it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door.
The money you get in this year’s tax refund could help cover necessities like food, bills, rent or mortgage payments. You may also be able to use some or all of your tax refund to open a savings account or an ABLE account if you are eligible. Learn more about ABLE accounts and eligibility by visiting our ABLE National Resource Center. Learn more about using your tax refund to start an emergency fund to kickstart your savings and begin building your financial resiliency.
Finally, if you do choose to use a paid preparer, plan in advance.
Get resources right to your inbox!
The Financial Resilience Center was developed by National Disability Institute with generous funding from the Wells Fargo Foundation.