The Internal Revenue Service encouraged taxpayers to take necessary actions now to help file federal tax returns timely and accurately in 2021.
Almost everyone can file electronically for free. The IRS Free File program, available only through IRS.gov or the IRS2Go app, offers brand-name tax preparation software packages at no cost. The software does all the work of finding deductions, credits and exemptions. It’s free for those who earned $72,000 or less in 2020. Some of the Free File packages also offer free state tax return preparation.
Taxpayers comfortable filling out tax forms electronically, can use Free File Fillable Forms, regardless of income, to file their tax returns either by mail or online.
Choosing a preparer
The IRS has several options for finding a tax preparer. One resource is Choosing a Tax Professional, which offers a wealth of information for selecting a tax professional. The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications can help taxpayers find preparers in their area who currently hold professional credentials recognized by the IRS, or who hold an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion.
Other online help
The Interactive Tax Assistant answers general tax questions, including helping to determine if a type of income is taxable or if someone is eligible to claim certain credits and deductions. With changes to income and other life events for many in 2020, tax credits and deductions can mean more money in a taxpayer’s pocket and thinking about eligibility now can help make tax filing easier next year.
Taxpayers may qualify for credits like the Child Tax Credit and Child and Dependent Care Credit. Taxpayers whose dependent does not qualify for the CTC might be able to claim the Credit for Other Dependents. Individuals paying higher education costs for themselves, a spouse or a dependent, may be eligible to save some money with education tax credits or deductions. Additionally, low- to moderate-income taxpayers may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Beginning in January 2021, the Interactive Tax Assistant will be updated to include answers to more tax law questions.
Taxpayers can check the status of their refund using the Where’s My Refund? tool. The status is available within 24 hours after the IRS receives their e-filed tax return or up to four weeks after they mailed a paper return. The Where’s My Refund? tool updates once every 24 hours, usually overnight, so taxpayers only need to check once a day.