Terry’s Columns Free Tax Filing Help

Free Tax Filing Help

By Terry Savage on February 09, 2021

Tax filing season for the year 2020 is upon us. For many people, it will be both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge may come in electronic filing for those who have used paper returns in the past. But the opportunity lies in getting your unpaid but deserved stimulus refund deposited to your account within weeks. The entire process will be complicated for those who are victims of unemployment identity theft.

Identity Theft Tax Issues
Some taxpayers may receive 1099G forms from state governments for unemployment benefits they did not receive. Suddenly they will realize they are victims of Identity Theft. It should be reported immediately on your state’s unemployment website.
Here’s a message from the IRS:

“Taxpayers who receive an incorrect Form 1099-G for unemployment benefits they did not receive should contact the issuing state agency to request a revised Form 1099-G showing they did not receive these benefits. Taxpayers who are unable to obtain a timely, corrected form from states should still file an accurate tax return, reporting only the income they received.”

It may take months before the IRS contacts you about the discrepancy between the state 1099 and your 1040. So keep proof, even a screen shot, of your attempt to report identity theft.

Why File Electronically?
The IRS is still processing paper returns filed last year in the midst of the pandemic. Many people have not yet received their 2019 tax refunds! The fact that interest will be paid on those amounts is small consolation.

For 2020, it is clearly wise to file electronically. Filing season starts February 12th, and the IRS has promised that the Economic Incentive Payments (stimulus) will be direct deposited in early March for those who file immediately, or within 3 weeks of filing electronically.

To get help with electronic tax filing, use the IRS’ FreeFile alliance program offered in association with most well-known tax preparation companies. It is available if your adjusted gross income is below $72,000. Start the process is at IRS.gov/FreeFile, which provides links to all participating tax preparers. Most of the FreeFile partner firms include one free state filing, as well.

The IRS also has a link to its VITA program – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – for the elderly, which offers in-person counseling for those earning $57,000 or less, or who are disabled or have problems speaking English. You can search “VITA” locations on the IRS website, but because of the pandemic most of these in-person sites will not be operating this spring.

Last Chance to Get Stimulus Payment
You’re not <> to file unless your 2020 gross income was at least $12,200 as a single filer or $14,050 if you are single and 65 and older. For those under 65 and married filing jointly, you must file if your income was over $24,800. The filing requirement if both are over 65, is income over $27,400.

But this year, many people under those income limits will file in order to get their refundable Economic Impact Payments – both the $1200 stimulus from last year, and the $600 from this year (or any portion that was not paid out already).

You’ll claim those refundable credits on Line 30 of your 1040. Remember you are eligible for each full stimulus if your 2020 adjustable gross income on the return you are now filing was less than $75,000 on a single return, or $150000 on a joint return.

To qualify for this refund, you make sure that you are not eligible to be listed as a dependent on anyone else’s return for 2020, and you have provided at least half of your own support. Then file your return electronically, input your banking information, and get both stimulus payments direct deposited.

Filing tax returns is always a challenge and a chore. But this year there is a great incentive to file electronically and add your direct deposit banking information. You can do this! And there’s plenty of free help available. It’s time to make the change. And that’s The Savage Truth.



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