All About 2021 Taxes with United Way MV's Free Tax Prep!

Tax season can be a stressful time for many. Whether it is your first time filing taxes or you have been doing it for decades, tax season is never without its challenges. It is also subject to many unexpected changes; this year, the deadline to file your taxes has been pushed back to May 17, giving people a longer time frame to complete their paperwork. Let’s not forget about the cost that comes along with filing taxes and how getting assistance to ensure it’s done properly is not feasible for many and may take a large portion out of their expected return.

United Way of the Mohawk Valley wants to take the financial stress out of filing taxes, and that's what our Free Tax Prep initiative sets out to accomplish each year. Free Tax Prep is designed to aid families in Oneida and Herkimer counties when it comes to filing their taxes. Eligible households with an annual income of up to $66,000 per year are eligible to receive assistance from IRS-certified volunteers at no expense to them.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added some extra challenges to the tax filing process, which is why people may feel more compelled to have a certified tax preparer file their return instead of trying to file themselves. Stimulus checks, which have been implemented to help revamp the economy following a lull-point during the height of the pandemic, have been issued to millions of Americans, with each payment varying in amount.

Fortunately, according to the IRS, those who received stimulus checks do not have to pay income taxes on the balance received. If an individual did not receive the first two stimulus payments, they can claim the recovery rebate credit when filing their taxes. For the third stimulus payment, they can track their payment through the IRS website at www.irs.gov by using the "Get My Payment" tool. Starting with the third stimulus payment, filers can receive stimulus payments for adult dependents, which has not been the case with the first two stimulus checks.

While the multiple stimulus payments are not being taxed, if you filed for unemployment benefits in 2020, the first $10,200 (per filer) will not be taxed by the federal government. It is not going to impact your state return at this point. The IRS has not released guidance on how to amend (if you need to amend) previously filed tax returns for 2020. If you have already filed, leave it as is until further notice.

With this said, many may be scratching their heads and wondering how to go about tax season this year and how they will afford to pay for the professional help to get it done right. That's where United Way MV's FTP initiative comes in! Safety is our biggest priority for everyone involved, which is why we are offering virtual appointments for those who are eligible - that way you can meet with our IRS-certified volunteers in the comfort of your home! Clients can sign-up for virtual appointments with our easy-to-use, HIPPA-compliant and data-encrypted teleconnection platform, Klara. Digital document signatures and filing will is also available virtually.

Are you eligible and interested in participating in our Free Tax Prep program? We have your back and are ready to help you navigate the overwhelming tax prep process. It’s not too late to schedule a meeting with one of our professional volunteers! For more information, please visit www.unitedwaymv.org/freetaxprep and have your taxes filed the stress-free way!