U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), New Jersey’s only member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, marked the opening of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax filing season by helping open the free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) clinic operated by the United Way of Passaic County.
Located in the Paterson Center City Mall, the clinic will help community members fill out their taxes, navigate the complex federal tax code, and obtain their rightful refunds, particularly for their stimulus checks and child tax credits.
“We all know well that our tax system remains unnecessary complex. This is especially true for working-class families,” said Pascrell. “The IRS is warning this will be a difficult filing season marred by refund delays. With millions of Americans successfully receiving stimulus checks and child tax credits from the American Rescue plan, it is essential this year to help our neighbors navigate the process. This clinic will provide free tax help to make our community members get every refund dollar to which they are entitled.”
“United Way’s VITA partnership supports financial stability by allowing taxpayers to keep the full amount of their return,” said Randy Allen, United Way’s director of community impact. “In most cases, taxpayers reinvest those dollars back into their community through increased savings, bill pay, and purchases in their community.”
Fully open to the public, individuals seeking tax help should make an appointment ahead of time here. Some of the help and assistance the tax center will provide includes:
Help with using e-file and direct deposit to avoid delays.
The clinic will advise taxpayers how to electronically file and choose direct deposit as soon as they have everything they need to file an accurate return.
For those using e-file, there is also software available to help individuals avoid mistakes by guiding people through each section of their tax return using a question-and-answer format.
Urging filers to make sure all stimulus payment and advance Child Tax Credit information is accurate.
Filers will be encouraged to collect all documents before preparing a tax return. In addition to collecting W-2s, Form 1099s and other income-related statements, it is important filers have their advance Child Tax Credit and Economic Impact Payment (EIP) information on hand when filing.
If a return includes errors or is incomplete, it may require further review while the IRS corrects the error, which may slow the tax refund. Using this information when preparing a tax return electronically can reduce errors and avoid delays in processing.
Assistance to CTC claimants.
In recent months, the IRS started sending Letter 6419 to people who received advance CTC payments (titled “2021 Total Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) Payments” near the top).
The letter is vital to filing as it contains important information that can help ensure the tax return is accurate. Eligible taxpayers who received advance Child Tax Credit payments will be advised to file a 2021 tax return to receive the second half of the credit.
Eligible taxpayers who did not receive advance Child Tax Credit payments will be advised that they can claim the full credit by filing a tax return.
Filers will be also be advised that if they received advance CTC payments they can check the amount of the payments they received by using the CTC Update Portal available on IRS.gov.
Assistance to stimulus check recipients.
IRS began issuing Letter 6475 to people who received a third stimulus payment (or EIP) in late January 2021 (titled “Your Third Economic Impact Payment” near the top).
While most eligible people already received their stimulus payment, Letter 6475 will help individuals determine if they are eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC) for missing stimulus payments.
The center will advise that people who are eligible for RRC must file a 2021 tax return to claim their remaining stimulus amount. Filers will also be advised that they can use the IRS online account to view their Economic Impact Payment amounts.
Navigating online IRS resources.
Phone demand on IRS assistance lines remains at record highs. Therefore, to avoid lengthy delays, the free tax center will show filers how to use IRS.gov to get answers to tax questions, check a refund status or pay taxes. There is no wait time or appointment needed – online tools and resources are available 24 hours a day.
Additionally, filers can obtain updates from the IRS’s official social media accounts and email subscription lists to stay current on the latest tax topics and alert, as well as obtain information by downloading the IRS2Go mobile app and watching IRS YouTube videos.
IRS tax resources are available in 20 languages. People can also file Schedule LEP, Request for Change in Language Preference, to receive written communications from the IRS in their preferred language.
Aiding those waiting for a 2020 return to be processed.
The tax center will advise that to validate and successfully submit an electronically filed tax return to the IRS, taxpayers need their Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI, from their most recent tax return.
For those waiting on their 2020 tax return to be processed, here’s a special tip to ensure the tax return is accepted by the IRS for processing: make sure to enter $0 (zero dollars) for last year’s AGI on the 2021 tax return.
For those who used a Non-Filer tool in 2021 to register for an advance Child Tax Credit or third Economic Impact Payment in 2021, they should enter $1 as their prior year AGI. Everyone else should enter their prior year’s AGI from last year’s return.
If using the same tax preparation software as last year, this field will auto-populate.
Sharing other free resources for taxpayers.
The tax center will show filers the many options available to them to obtain free help. In addition to using IRS.gov, for those looking to avoid the delays with a paper tax return, IRS Free File is an option.
With Free File, leading tax software providers make their online products available for free. This year, there are eight products in English and two in Spanish. IRS Free File is available to any person or family who earned $73,000 or less in 2021.