The Internal Revenue Service today urged taxpayers who have a filing extension through Oct. 16 to check their returns for often-overlooked tax benefits. When they are ready to file, the IRS recommends they file their return electronically using IRS e-file or the Free File system. Both are still available for taxpayers who still need to file their return.
Although Oct. 16 is the last day for most people to file, some individuals — such as members of the military serving in a combat zone — are allowed more time to file. Typically, they have until 180 days after they leave the combat zone to both file their return and pay any taxes due.
**In addition, taxpayers who have a valid extension and are in or affected by a federally declared disaster area may be allowed more time to file. Currently, taxpayers in parts of Michigan, West Virginia and those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria qualify for this relief. See the disaster relief page on www.IRS.gov for details.
Check for Tax Benefits
Before filing, the IRS encourages taxpayers to take a moment to see if they qualify for these and other significant credits and deductions:
Benefits for low- and moderate-income workers and families, especially the Earned Income Tax Credit, can increase a taxpayer’s refund and lower the amount of taxes they pay. The EITC Assistant can help taxpayers see if they’re eligible.
- Savers credit, claimed on Form 8880, for low- and moderate-income workers who contributed to a retirement plan, such as an IRA or 401(k).
- American Opportunity Tax Credit, claimed on Form 8863, and other education tax benefits for parents and college students.
E-file and Free File
The IRS urges taxpayers to choose the speed and convenience of electronic filing and direct deposit for their refunds. Fast, accurate and secure, filing electronically is an ideal option for those rushing to meet the Oct. 16 deadline. The IRS verifies receipt of an e-filed return and people who file electronically make fewer mistakes. Of the 145.3 million returns received by the IRS so far this year, approximately 87.5 percent — or 127.2 million — have been e-filed.
Everyone can use Free File, either the brand-name software, offered by the IRS’s commercial partners to individuals and families with incomes of $64,000 or less, or online fillable forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms available to taxpayers at all income levels. IRS Free File remains available either online at IRS.gov/FreeFile or through the mobile app, IRS2Go.
More than eight of 10 taxpayers enjoy the convenience of direct deposit. Taxpayers can choose to have their refunds deposited into as many as three accounts. See Form 8888 for details.
Free Tax Help
Free face-to-face tax help is still available across the country. The IRS sponsors free tax preparation assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program. Both programs provide IRS-certified volunteers to prepare federal and state tax returns electronically for people with low- to-moderate income, seniors, disabled individuals or people who speak English as a second language.
More information on available locations, times and what to bring can be found by typing “free tax preparation” in the search box on www.IRS.gov.