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Tax Time!

By MARY ELLEN KALUZA

Tax season creates a lot of anxiety, even if you expect a refund. Filing seems to get harder every year. You’d think Congress would like to make it as easy as possible for us, but the poor IRS has been woefully underfunded for years, leaving the agency with seriously outdated technology and far fewer employees to process the hundreds of millions of tax returns they receive each year. Add a pandemic into the mess and… Hopefully this information can ease some of your anxiety.

A Few Tips To Help Manage Tax Filing

  • Whether you are doing your own taxes or having someone else prepare them, gathering all your information in advance will speed up the process. Find a list of most common info needed at https://prepareandprosper.org/free-tax-preparation/what-to-bring/.
  • File electronically for faster processing.
  • Choose to receive your refund by direct deposit to get it a month or more sooner.
  • File early to beat the rush, and more importantly, to help prevent tax identity theft.
  • This year’s filing deadline: April 18, 2022.

Special For This Year

  • Advance child tax credit payments: Families eligible for child tax credits need to be aware that advance payments already received in 2021 are subtracted from the total child tax credit you can claim on the 2021 tax return. Look for and save Letter 6419 mailed from the IRS.
  • Economic impact payments (aka stimulus checks): If you didn’t receive any or all of the payments, you may need to file a tax return for 2020 for the first two payments and one for 2021 for the third payment. Look for and save Letter 6475 mailed from the IRS for the third payment information.
  • Charitable deductions: We can deduct $300 (individuals) or $600 (married joint filers) of qualifying donations without itemizing deductions. 

Thanks to Prepare + Prosper for gleaning much of this information from the IRS website and sharing it with us. (Saved me some mind-numbing reading!) Find the full list of IRS tax tips at: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-tax-tips

Where To Get Help

Do It Yourself Help

  • Prepare + Prosper: https://prepareandprosper.org/do-it-yourself-tax-prep/. Limited to folks with income of $73,000 or less. Get access to a free TaxSlayer account, weekly live or recorded webinars, and support via email or phone.
  • IRS Free File: https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free. File your free federal return with an adjusted gross income of $73,000 or less using free online tax filing software. You are directed to a list of IRS Free File providers to choose from. NOTE: You must access the provider via IRS.gov to file your federal taxes free. Some state tax preparation and filing are free. 
  • Free File Fillable Tax Forms: Available at the IRS website above. These are electronic forms like the paper 1040 forms that can be filled out online. Available to all income levels.
  • Paper tax return: Order forms directly from the IRS to be mailed to you: https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/forms-and-publications-by-us-mail, or call 800-829-3676. You can also download and print forms from the same website address, or check with libraries, the post office, or office supply stores for paper forms.

Minnesota Tax Return

As you are navigating filing taxes and no doubt grumbling along the way, it helps to bear in mind what our tax dollars do for us. Think roads, bridges, social security, public health and safety, schools, parks… That should cheer you up!

Mary Ellen Kaluza is a Certified Financial, Housing, and Reverse Mortgage Counselor.

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