There are less than four weeks remaining for most Americans to file their taxes, and some people could be feeling overwhelmed right now with the federal deadline looming.
Filing an accurate, online return with direct deposit may avoid processing delays, stalled refunds and future IRS notices, so it's crucial to have all the required forms for a complete and error-free return, the Internal Revenue Service said in a statement. Incomplete information could also cost people tax-savings opportunities.
"The pandemic continues to create challenges, but the IRS reminds people there are important steps they can take to help ensure their tax return and refund don’t face processing delays," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Filing electronically with direct deposit and avoiding a paper tax return is more important than ever this year. And we urge extra attention to those who received an Economic Impact Payment or an advance Child Tax Credit last year. People should make sure they report the correct amount on their tax return to avoid delays.”
The IRS began accepting and processing tax returns on Jan. 24, and the deadline to file 2021 tax returns and pay tax owed is Monday, April 18. Taxpayers in Massachusetts and Maine have until April 19 to file their returns due to the Patriots’ Day holiday in those states.
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The IRS is encouraging people to use online resources before calling, noting that last season the agency received more than 145 million calls from January 1 – May 17, as a result of COVID-era tax changes and broader pandemic challenges.
“Our phone volumes continue to remain at record-setting levels,” Rettig said. “We urge people to check IRS.gov and establish an online account to help them access information more quickly. We have invested in developing new online capacities to make this a quick and easy way for taxpayers to get the information they need.”
In addition to IRS.gov, there are a variety of free options available to help taxpayers, ranging from free assistance at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly locations across the country to the availability of the IRS Free File program.
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If you're looking to file for free, check out these resources to help get you through the 2021 tax season:
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $58,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their tax returns.
IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.
VITA sites are located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other locations across the country.
To locate the nearest VITA site near you, use the VITA Locator Tool here or call 800-906-9887.
Tax Counseling for the Elderly
The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program provides free tax assistance to people who are 60 and older.
IRS-certified volunteers provide free assistance and basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals at community locations across the nation.
To locate TCE sites near you, use the TCE locator tool here or call 888-227-7669.
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide provides in-person and virtual tax assistance, free of charge, to taxpayers who are over 50 and have low to moderate income. Tax-Aide volunteers are located nationwide, and are trained and IRS-certified every year to make sure they know about and understand the latest changes and additions to the tax code.
Tax-Aide sites are currently open for the 2022 tax season. This year, tax assistance is available by appointment only. To locate the nearest AARP TCE Tax-Aide site between January and April use the AARP Site Locator Tool or call 888-227-7669.
Boston Tax Help Coalition
The Boston Tax Help Coalition is offering free tax services, including both in-person and remote tax preparation for Boston residents who earn $60,000 or less. If someone does not have access to a computer or smartphone, they can still get telephone support related to tax filing. They can dial 3-1-1 or 617-635-4500.
The Boston Tax Help Coalition provides tax services to approximately 13,000 taxpayers annually, returning $24 million in refunds and credits. The citywide effort depends on the dedication of a network of community partners and a corps of hundreds of IRS-trained volunteers who provide services in nine languages.
“You are truly the best of what Boston has to offer,” Mayor Michelle Wu said to the Coalition's members at the virtual launch event for its 20th season. “After all these years of service, you are a reminder that Boston is a city where we always look out for each other and lift each other up.”
As a leading partner of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and the City of Boston’s Tax Help Coalition, ABCD provides low and medium income Boston area residents with free electronic Federal and Massachusetts state tax preparation.
ABCD's VITA volunteers are IRS-certified annually and provide free tax assistance if you're income eligible and meet a few other requirements. Tax services are available by appointment only. Find your local ABCD site here to schedule a consultation, or call 617-348-6591.
Massachusetts Association for Community Action
Many of the 23 Community Action Agencies – local trusted institutions mandated to fight poverty - throughout Massachusetts offer free tax preparation services at volunteer income tax assistance sites (VITA).
They also offer many other critical integrated services that include heating help, early childhood education and care, rental assistance, access to food pantry and food programs, access to health programs, and more.
Find an organization near you: https://www.masscap.org/agencies/
The United Way helps people through the volunteer income tax assistance (VITA) program – free, licensed assistance preparing returns.
While in-person assistance is a must for some people, many more can qualify for help from United Way’s myfreetaxes.com -- the largest free tax preparation service operated by a nonprofit. The site has no income limit or age restrictions and supports unlimited state returns. It is free for all filers, with no option for paid add-ons or fees. It offers IRS-certified 211 call specialists to assist filers as well as connections to a VITA site if in-person assistance is needed. United Way makes this service available to reach the millions who will qualify for free assistance but may not be able to access a VITA site.
For more information on tax assistance services, visit irs.gov.