Tax help Feed

A VITA volunteer helps a taxpayer prepare and e-filer her tax return for free. (IRS video screenshot) Tax software works fine for millions of taxpayers. Another sizeable chunk of filers opt for more personal service from a tax professional. Then there are people for whom software just doesn't cut it. They need or want more help and assurance that their taxes will be filed correctly. But they can't afford a tax preparer. Say hello to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). Trained volunteer tax filing help: VITA programs across the United States offer free... Read more →


The Child Tax Credit (CTC) was expanded as part of the COVID-19 relief bill signed into law by President Joe Biden. Instead of $2,000 per child, the CTC in for the 2021 tax year is $3,600 per child age 5 or younger. It's $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. Part of the 2021 credit money is going out through the end of the year as advance payments. The October payments went out last Friday. Two more rounds, on the 15th of November and December, will be issued. Few of us will turn down money, so the credit increase and... Read more →


Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels Everyone needs help now and then. That truism especially applies to filing taxes. But not everyone can afford to hire a tax professional. That's where the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs come into play. For decades, these two programs have provided free tax preparation and filing assistance during the annual filing season to millions of lower- and middle-income taxpayers, as well as elderly filers. The Internal Revenue Service just announced its financial support for 334 VITA and TCE programs in 2022. Now the agency is looking... Read more →


Free tax-preparation and filing help is offered ever tax season through groups community groups nationwide, like this Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program run by the Summit-Medina, Ohio, United Way. As the COVID-compromised 2020 and 2021 tax filing seasons demonstrated, most taxpayers needed some help to make sure they got all the tax breaks they were entitled to, as well as just file their annual returns. That need for tax assistance isn't going away, even if we do (fingers and toes tightly crossed) get to a more normal tax season next year. And volunteers who've received the Internal Revenue Service... Read more →


In addition to visiting your local pumpkin patch this month, make time for these October tax moves. (Photo by James Wheeler via Pexels) It's October. I know I say this every month, but wow, this day got here quickly. And it's just the start of a busy month. This first full month of fall means it's time to winterize your house if you live in a place with changing seasons. You've got candy to buy so trick-or-treaters won't be disappointed. But take it from me, don't buy the sweets too soon or you'll have to buy more by the time... Read more →


Here's some news that's not news for many taxpayers. The Internal Revenue Service is still running behind in its processing of tax filings and getting payments, including refunds, out to taxpayers. What is new, though, is that the admission comes from the top of the tax agency. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig praised the efforts of his employees during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in a recent A Closer Look column. The online IRS publication offers agency executives the chance to discuss issues of interest to taxpayers and the tax community. But Rettig also acknowledged in the Sept. 14 piece that "despite... Read more →


The Great Resignation created by folks deciding not to return to their jobs after extended COVID-19 absences has led to a lot of new businesses. That means there a many new bosses out there, most of them dealing with a different part of the Internal Revenue Service for the first time. As business owners, they potentially face new types of taxes. Exactly which taxes depend largely on how their new company is established. That's why selection of a business entity is a major tax decision. Business entity options: As part of 2021's National Small Business Week, sponsored annually by the... Read more →


Everybody needs some help now and then. On Friday, July 23, and Saturday, July 24, the Internal Revenue Service is providing assistance to those in 16 metropolitan areas who need to file a 2020 tax return so they can get various COVID-19 relief payments. The first of six scheduled Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) payments hit bank accounts and U.S. Postal Service boxes last week. The bulk of these initial payments — the Internal Revenue Service says it sent out $15 billion to about 35 million families — were dispersed automatically. The recipients, who had previously filed returns or used... Read more →


TurboTax won't be a Free File option when the 2022 tax filing season arrives. Taxpayers who used TurboTax to complete and e-file their returns at the Internal Revenue Service's Free File website are going to have to find a new program in 2022. The popular tax software is leaving the Free File program next filing season. It will, however, remain on the IRS.gov site for use by taxpayers who got an extension until Oct. 15 to finish their 2020 returns. TurboTax is the second major tax software provider to leave the Free File Alliance, the nonprofit coalition of tax software... Read more →


Need help filing a 2020 tax return so you can get Advance Child Tax Credit payments? The IRS and community groups in 12 metro areas are holding events to help you do just that. In a few weeks, the Internal Revenue Service will start sending out advance payments of the Child Tax Credit. The early credit amounts will go out automatically to taxpayers who, based on their 2019 or 2020 tax filing data in the IRS system, qualify for the family-friendly tax break. But not everyone who's eligible for the Child Tax Credit, which generally will be $300 a month... Read more →


Helping hand photo by Lalesh Aldarwish via Pexels.com I'm a big fan of the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Part of that, as long-time readers know, is because I was fortunate enough to serve on the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP), a volunteer group created to help the Internal Revenue Service meet and improve on the promise of the final word in the agency's name. My years with TAP let me see how TAS and the IRS work to help solve taxpayer problems. And yes, the people committed to this process really do care and do all they can to help taxpayers within... Read more →


UPDATE, Oct. 5 , 2021: Yes, you are experiencing tax déjà vu. But if you're one of the millions of taxpayers who got an extension to file your 2020 return back in May, and then put off doing so until now, literally just days until the final Oct. 15 due date, then you need this reminder. As you finally fill out your Form 1040, don't make any of these dozen tax filing mistakes. Every tax-filing season is different. One thing is constant, though. Taxpayers, and sometimes even the tax preparers they hire, make mistakes on 1040 forms. Hey, we're only... Read more →


We made it through April 15, 2021. The problem, though, is that for most individual taxpayers and the tax pros who handle their filings, yesterday wasn't really Tax Day. That's still more than a month away. Or, to be precise per [shameless plug] the clicking away countdown clock in the ol' blog's right column, 31 days and some odd hours away. Those extra days and hours until the new 2021 Tax Day on May 17, regardless of how well-intentioned (but incomplete), also should be added to the overall compliance burden taxpayers face every tax season. COVID tax complications: OK, maybe... Read more →


Tax Season 2021 is finally here! The Internal Revenue Service has started accepting tax returns and, more importantly, is now processing the filings as of today, Friday, Feb. 12. Millions have already filed. Most of them used tax software, either on their own or through the Free File program, which the IRS and its tax prep partners opened up a month ago. Those 1040 forms have been on hold. Now they've been transmitted to the IRS. Others, however, still have some work to do. We're waiting for some tax statements to straggle in, either to our snail mail or email... Read more →


This might be a first. The Internal Revenue Service essentially is going to be every taxpayers' valentine this year. No, it's not because we love paying our taxes or the agency that collects them so much. It's because the IRS officially starts accepting and processing our 2020 tax returns on the Friday before St. Valentine's Weekend. That means many of us will be consumed by the Internal Revenue Code as we work to complete our 1040 forms and get them to the IRS ASAP. For many, the target date is the Feb. 12 official opening of this tax season. So... Read more →


The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the federal government's largest refundable federal income tax credit for low- to moderate-income workers. In 2020, more than 25 million taxpayers received over $62 billion in EITC. The average EITC amount received last year was $2,461 per return. The EITC also is regularly overlooked. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that one of five eligible taxpayers do not claim the credit. That oversight could change this filing season. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed millions of American workers into lower income brackets last year as their work was reduced. That could make them eligible for this... Read more →


Pixabay via Pexels Members of the military have a lot of things to worry about. New enlistees are concerned whether they'll make it through basic training. Military personnel who are stationed far from their families worry about how spouses and children are faring. And, of course, those posted in dangerous parts of the world are in constant concern for their own safety. But every tax filing season, members of the military also must worry about taxes. Taxes for all, but some military breaks: Yes, with all the other responsibilities we place on the men and women who serve the United... Read more →


Attention early tax return filers. The 2021 tax filing season now is officially, although only partially, open. UPDATE, Jan. 15, 11:20 a.m.: The full 2021 filing season will start on Feb. 12. Details to come shortly in a separate post. UPDATE, Jan. 15, 4:00 p.m.: The IRS opened up its Free File site on Jan. 15. It also announced that it will officially open the full 2021 tax filing season on Feb. 12. That's when the IRS will start accepting and processing all 2020 tax returns, regardless of how they are filed. The Internal Revenue Service announced today that eligible... Read more →


I'm feeling a bit like the Internal Revenue Service's appointments secretary, but this Friday, Jan. 15, is a date when many taxpayers need to take action. Yes, I'm talking about the fourth estimated tax payment due at the end of this week, but also about some final tax year 2019 housekeeping. Specifically, individuals and businesses who were in the paths of some major disasters last year. The timing of those catastrophes prompted the IRS to give taxpayers who had already filed for an extension to finish their 2019 tax returns until Jan. 15, 2021, to complete them. These folks now... Read more →


Some taxpayers awoke today to $600 (or more!) in their bank accounts. The money is the maximum per-person amount authorized by Congress and signed into law on Dec. 27 as part of the second COVID-19 economic relief measure. The Internal Revenue Service, which once again is in charge of distributing the economic impact payments (EIPs), says the electronic delivery will continue into next week. Some account holders may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments in their accounts before the official payment date of Jan. 4, 2021. Sorry, but you'll just have to wait for the... Read more →


Santa Claus, Indiana, is one of many merrily named communities across the country. However, this Christmas-year-round town is the only one with an official U.S. Postal Service Santa postmark. (Photo by tengrrl via Flickr CC) Ho! Ho! Ho! And Merry Christmas Eve from all the holiday themed towns across the United States. There are the municipalities dubbed North Pole in New York, Colorado, Alaska and yes, it's even OK in Oklahoma. For those who revel in the season's greenery we have up the road from me Garland, Texas, as well as virtual forest full of Evergreens. There's an Evergreen in... Read more →