As I was answering a post on my blog this morning, I realized that many people may be missing out on big refunds this year — simply because they don’t know how to claim them. (Please read my nearby column on both the Child Tax Credit and the Child CARE Credit for some background.) Others may be entitled to claim stimulus payments that were never received. And if you had a baby in 2021, that child is also eligible for the $1400 stimulus payment, which didn’t come in January.
Credits for Non-Filers
Many of these credits are for low income people who are not even required to file a tax return. Those NOT required to file fall into this category:
Single. Not 65 or older: The minimum income amount needed for filing taxes in 2020 should be $12,400. 65 or older: It should be over $14,050 to file a tax return. If your unearned income was more than $1,050, you must file a return.
But these non-filers MUST file in order to claim REFUNDABLE CREDITS. If you don’t file, the government won’t automatically send you credits for which you may qualify. And that process may be intimidating! But there’s plenty of free help available.
How to get FREE, in-person, TAX HELP:
In Illinois (where many of my tv and radio audience hear me) You might benefit from one of the many free taxpayer assistance locations of an organization called “Ladder UP”.
Click this link to find a site near you: https://www.goladderup.org/locations/
And no matter where you live, check out this page at IRS.gov to find free resources to help you file this year’s return.
And here is a link to the government’s free tax prep sites: https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/
The above are places where you can get in-person free tax help. They will then translate this into an electronic filing — so you get your refund sooner. You’ll need to bring any W-2s or 1099 forms showing income you received. AND, you should bring your bank account number and the “bank routing number” so they can set up direct deposit of your refund. Just ask at your bank and they will give you their routing number (or it is on your check at the bottom, just before your account and check number).
Free Electronic filing
There are also several ways you can get free help online to file an electronic return. This is scary for some, but easy once you do it. You’ll be prompted to ask for deductions/credits every step of the way. If you’re ready to give it a try, consider these sites:
eFile.com offers basic free filing in less than 15 minutes. Their online “help” feature allows you to connect with an expert if you have questions.
TurboTax offers free online filing of basic returns with individualized help from tax experts — BUT you must file by March 31st! Use this link to the TurboTax FREE page and get started now.
There are only days left in the 2021 tax filing season. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. And above all, don’t fail to collect those refundable credits that you deserve!
And a special note to my more sophisticated readers who may know all this stuff already: Please reach out to someone you know and share this post. Maybe its the nice clerk at the grocery store checkout line, or the person behind the counter at your dry cleaners, or the cleaning lady you never notice. Make it a casual conversation. I guess I’m the only one who regularly walks around asking strangers if they received their stimulus payments or child tax credit! But sharing this info could make a big difference in their lives.