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FREE TAX HELP

The IRS has extended the tax filing deadline to May 17, 2021. The automatic extension also applies to payment of any balance due, with no interest or penalties on amounts paid on or before May 17.

Joan Kritzberg is offering FREE tax help again this year, although she will not be providing volunteer services in person at the Feldheym Library, due to COVID-19 pandemic. Feldheym is open Monday – Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. with a limited number of public PCs that may be used for an hour a day, book pick-up and assistance from staff at the Circulation, Reference and Children’s service desks. Joan is a retired CPA/accounting professor, and not licensed by the IRS to provide paid tax preparation services. To stay up-to-date, she participates in fresh training every year.

Joan will be happy, by email, to try to answer questions you may have about filing your own tax return. For the last 50 years, her area of expertise has been income tax issues involving taxpayers with relatively uncomplicated returns. You’re welcome to try her with your tax problem and she'll let you know whether it requires more skill than she has or more research than she is willing to do. Her confidential email account, accessible only by her, is FeldheymTaxHelp@gmail.com

The format of MyFreeTaxes.com has changed this year. The site is still sponsored by United Way, but they are using TaxSlayer software instead of H&R Block. The best news is that MyFreeTaxes.com claims anyone can use it for free.

• No current year preparation or electronic filing Fees
• No income limitations
• No age limitations
• Unlimited current year states
• Access to prepare and e-file 1040-NR
• Access to prepare and e-file 1040PR

MyFreeTaxes.com is for people who are willing to use tax preparation software, which is pretty user-friendly, to file their own taxes (most tax software packages are very similar with identical results). There is online help available, and a telephone helpline. Once you get started (create an account, enter basic personal information), Joan can help you, too, by email.

If your income is less than $57,000, and doesn't include rental or farm income, MyFreeTaxes.com has a link for “assistance,” which takes you to the site at the end of this flyer that will help you find a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance location near you.

There are links on the irs.gov website for other tax prep software offers with restrictions. The TurboTax offer, for example, is only available for income under $39,000, while some other programs will accept income up to $72,000. Several of them don't include a California state return. MyFreeTaxes.com is the least restrictive, and it's not included among the links on the IRS site (because it's United Way, not IRS):

Free File: Do your Federal Taxes for Free | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov)

There are still some Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites offering in-person assistance, but they may not be operating at full capacity. The VITA program offers free tax help generally to people who make $57,000 or less (sites may vary), persons with disabilities, and limited English-speaking taxpayers (mostly Spanish) who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns.

In addition to VITA, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help, particularly for those who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors. AARP also may provide tax help sites, but their website is not active yet.

While the IRS manages the VITA and TCE programs, the actual sites are staffed by volunteers who receive tax law training. The IRS requires a quality review check for every return prepared at a VITA/TCE site prior to filing. You can find an open site near your Zip Code using the VITA/TCE Locator Tool or the AARP Site Locator Tool links on this website:

Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov)