March 4, 2021
By Jessica Mathews / News@whmi.com
It’s tax season again and low-income Livingston Counties again have some options to help them file and receive needs credits for free.
Due to late 2020 tax law changes, the date for filing to start has been moved to February 12th to prepare the system to accept returns. Although there has been some speculation, the registration deadline is still April 15th, and various organizations and volunteers are again offering free support.
Longtime local tax preparation volunteer John Dillon says there is no local tax preparation offered because of the pandemic, but there are still opportunities for individuals and families to get their taxes done for free as long as they are below the income guidelines of $ 57,000 or more fall less. The process is a little more arduous due to the pandemic but given the circumstances it is the best that can be done right now but there are still plenty of volunteers ready to help people.
According to Dillon, people who are able to copy, scan, or photograph their documents can upload them to a secure website with preparers who are part of the IRS’s Voluntary Income Tax Assistance Program. If not, there are numerous drop-off points where people can scan their documents to a file and have their returns prepared at home by trained preparers before they return to check everything. Since many people were unable to file their taxes for 2019 in the past year, volunteer organizations will also file these tax returns.
Dillon says WHMI is unique this year, but they are trying to find ways to help people get their taxes done for free. He stressed that this year it is important to have people who are professionally trained to file tax returns as a number of changes in tax law have taken place due to the pandemic.
He says people who haven’t received any or more of their stimulus payments will receive those payments when they file their taxes. Individuals who have withdrawn money from their 401K or IRA due to the pandemic and are younger than 59.5 years old would normally have to pay a fine, but this has been waived. Dillon says these individuals also have a certain amount of time to reinstate it and have no penalties. There are also other changes for people who have child tax credits or income credits. Since many people’s income may have decreased in 2020, there is an opportunity to use the income earned to their advantage from 2019 onwards. Dillon said people could use the income from either year and he has seen cases where it has been very beneficial to people because their income has decreased significantly. Individuals using the Standard Withholding can get an additional $ 300 for a charitable contribution and have it deducted from their income before the tax amount is calculated.
Dillon noted that unemployment benefits are taxable, but when people owe enough where they would normally get a penalty or receive interest for not having withheld enough tax, that penalty has been lifted by the state.
Please refer to the attached document for information on various organizations and dispensaries in Livingston County.