WASHINGTON, D.C.—With less than one month until Tax Day, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) alerted Ohioans to free tax preparation services and critical – but often unclaimed – tax credits that could help them save thousands of dollars. To aid in this effort, Brown will introduce new legislation, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Act of 2013 (VITA Act), which provides grants to volunteer assistance sites that help middle-class and low-income Ohioans file their tax returns. Brown also announced the creation of a new webpage, http://www.brown.senate.gov/services/tax-tips which provides tax tips and information on tax credits, free filing, and preparation services that benefit low- and moderate-income taxpayers in one, easy to navigate place.
“Every year Ohioans work hard and deserve to know how they can save themselves and their families money,” said Brown. “Filing taxes is complicated enough and saving money you’ve earned should be easy. So my new webpage is informative and user friendly, and VITA sites offer tax help for low-to-moderate income families so they can claim important tax credits that become more groceries, gas money, and money pumped into the local economy.”
VITA volunteer tax preparers offer free tax help to low-to-moderate income individuals and help them claim credits aimed to help working families, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). More than 32,000 Ohioans did not file a tax return in 2010, leaving $26 million in unclaimed tax refunds on the table, with a median value of $561. Taxpayers have until April 15th to file amended tax returns reaching back to 2009 and claim tax credits that they are eligible to receive. After that, these credits that should go to working families will be lost.
- The Earned Income Tax Credit is a federal tax credit that may be available to working individuals or families. For the 2010 tax year, the average credit for Ohioans was $2,103. Last year, 942,470 Ohio taxpayers claimed the EITC, returning more than $2 billion dollars to our state's economy. Working Ohioans also lost out on $532,644,000 by not taking advantage of the EITC.
- The American Opportunity Tax Credit, which passed as part of the Recovery Act and was most recently extended as a part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act in January, provides a partially-refundable tax credit for college tuition and expenses. The dollar-for-dollar match is good for the first $2,000 spent on college costs for each child, with the total deduction worth $2,500 or credit worth $1,000. The average credit in Ohio last year was $2,100. That means that Ohio middle class families can save upward of $8,000 to $10,000 over four years. Yet in 2010, 346,500 Ohioans failed to take advantage of the AOTC.
- The Child Tax Credit provides families with $1,000 worth of tax relief for each child under age 17.
Click here to see the number of Ohioans, by county, who recently failed to take advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit.
Individuals have three years to file an old return and claim the refund that they’re owed, meaning that this year is the last year that Ohioans can claim the millions of dollars they are owed from 2009. Other tax information to consider:
Refund checks are mailed to your last known address. Checks are returned to the IRS if you move without notifying the IRS or the U.S. Postal Service. You may be able to update your address with the IRS on the "Where’s My Refund?" feature available on IRS.gov. You will be prompted to provide an updated address if there is an undeliverable check outstanding within the last 12 months.
Free Electronic Tax Form Filing
Ohio taxpayers can take part in E-filing their taxes for free. According to the IRS, nearly 100 million Americans have utilized e-filing. The tax filing process is made far easier by e-filing, which includes answers to a variety of frequently asked questions, online fill-able forms, the ability to use direct deposit, and to pay electronically. On top of that, e-filing is considered the safest and fastest option for filing taxes. While the typical paper refund takes 8 weeks to receive, taxpayers who file electronically could see their refund deposited in their bank account in as little as 10 days. This service adds convenience and clarity to the tax filing process, and has continued to gain in popularity in recent years. To utilize the IRS' free e-filing website, please click here or for those filing with income exceeding $57,000, click here.
Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) – AARP Tax-Aide Program
If you are over age 60, you may also qualify for assistance filing your income taxes through the AARP Tax-Aide sites throughout New York (during tax season). The volunteers there are trained to do more complex tax returns. You should contact the AARP Tax-Aide site closest to you to determine if you are eligible for their service.