April 15 is a date better known as Tax Day, or everyone’s least favorite holiday. It’s a source of annual stress and dread for many Americans — but not this year.
While this extension has hopefully provided some reprieve to those of us who have been hardest hit by hours cuts, job loss and other impacts of the outbreak, the deadline still looms in the not too distant future. Filing taxes is notoriously complicated, but there are alternatives to either going it alone or paying for tax software.
The IRS estimates that 70% of taxpayers are eligible for free filing, but only about 3% actually use it.
Why, you may ask, do so few people use the free option, and why haven’t I heard of it?
That’s because many tax software companies have deliberately hidden their free versions from search engines. Last year, over 14 million people who qualified for free tax software ended up paying for it unnecessarily. This is unacceptable, and especially now that we are in the midst of a public health crisis, lower income Americans shouldn’t worry about a cost barrier to filing taxes.
There are several options to prepare your taxes for free, including the IRS Free File. The recent coronavirus response act also includes several new tax credits. If you’re owed a refund on your taxes, it may be better to file sooner rather than later so that you can use the refund to pay bills and other expenses in the meantime.
Remember, while preparing taxes is a daunting task, there is help out there to guide you through this process. As our dear founder Benjamin Franklin said, nothing is certain except death and taxes. Happy filing, friends!
Photo credit: U.S. Army, Thomas Hamilton III