WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service is reminding first-time applicants and those who typically do not have a federal filing requirement to file a 2020 tax return. You may be eligible for Recovery Rebate Credit, a new refundable credit approved by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the COVID-related Tax Relief Act.
Most of the individuals eligible for the Recovery Credit have already received the full amount in two rounds of payments known as Economic Impact Payments. All legal first and second economic impact payments have been issued.
Individuals who were eligible but did not receive the first or second economic impact payment, or received less than the full amount, may be eligible for the Refund Credit and will be required to file a 2020 tax return, even though they would not normally file a tax return. The IRS offers free options to prepare and submit a return.
Taxpayers who have received the full amount of both economic impact payments will not request the refund credit or information about the payments on their 2020 tax return because the IRS pre-issued their refund credit as economic impact payments.
Didn’t receive a payment for economic impact or received less than full?
Individuals who have not received a payment for economic impact or received less than the full amount may be eligible for the Refund Credit and will need to file a 2020 tax return, although they typically don’t.
The initial economic impact payment was based on an individual’s 2019 tax information, or 2018 information if the 2019 tax return information was not available. The second economic impact payment was based on an individual’s 2019 tax year information. Recovery Rebate Credit is similar, except that eligibility and amount are based on 2020 information on the tax return. The Recovery Rebate Credit is reduced by all Economic Impact Payments issued.
Individuals who were not eligible for either or both of the economic impact payments may still be eligible for the refund credit as it is based on their 2020 tax return information. Lower-income individuals in 2020 or individuals who were claimed dependent on someone else’s tax return in 2018 or 2019 but cannot be claimed as dependent on someone else’s tax return in 2020 will now be eligible for the Refund Credit.
Individuals eligible for the refund credit based on their 2020 tax information must file a 2020 tax return. For more information about recovery discount credit, see the Frequently Asked Questions at IRS.gov.
Filing a tax return for 2020
To avoid delays in your refund, please submit a complete and accurate tax return. The best way to file a full and accurate 2020 tax return is to file electronically. The tax software asks questions about income, credits, and deductions, and helps taxpayers determine their refund credit. The instructions for the Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR include a worksheet that can also be helpful.
Individuals must know the size of their economic impact payments in order to be eligible for the Refund Credit. Those who do not have economic impact payment notifications can view the amounts of their first and second economic impact payments through their individual online account. For married joint applicants, each spouse must log into their own account.
The Recovery Rebate Credit is included in every tax refund. It is not issued separately. For those receiving a refund (including the refund balance), combining electronic filing with direct deposit is the safest and fastest way to get their refund.
IRS free file
Taxpayers with incomes of $ 72,000 or less use branded software to electronically create and file their federal tax returns for free using IRS Free File. IRS Free File is a great option for those who only file a tax return to apply for Recovery Rebate Credit. Free File Fillable Forms is the only IRS Free File option available to most taxpayers whose gross adjusted income is greater than $ 72,000.
Taxpayers who have no taxable income but are filing a tax return to receive the Recovery Rebate Credit should look for several Free File products that do not have a minimum income for eligibility. Simply go to IRS.gov/Free File, select “Choose an IRS Free File Offer”, then select “Browse All Offers” to find a Free File product with no minimum income as part of its offering.
Free online tax assistance for members of the military, families, and some veterans
MilTax, Military OneSource’s tax service, provides online software for eligible individuals to electronically file a federal return and up to three government returns for free.
Free tax preparation in local communities
First-time applicants and those normally not required to register may also be eligible for free assistance from the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs in their community. These programs offer qualified individuals free tax return preparation.
The VITA program has existed for over 50 years and offers free tax assistance for:
- People who generally make $ 57,000 or less
- People with disabilities; and
- Limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance with their tax returns.
In addition to VITA, the TCE program provides free tax assistance, especially for those aged 60 and over who specialize in pension and retirement-related issues that only apply to senior citizens.
This year some VITA / TCE locations are not fully utilized, others will not be opened. Check the VITA / TCE location tool to look for available locations nearby.
Help at IRS.gov
IRS.gov has online resources to answer tax questions right away. The interactive tax assistant is a tool that provides answers to various tax law questions that are tailored to the individual circumstances of a taxpayer.
Visit IRS.gov/filing for details on IRS Free File, Free File Fillable Forms, free VITA or TCE tax preparation websites in the local community, or to find a trusted tax advisor.