Point of View: Online filing could mean cash in your pocket
I think it is safe to say we are living history at the moment. There are no sporting events to watch on our televisions. Our children are home from school with little idea of when they will go back. Movie theaters, malls and dine-in restaurants are all closed for the unforeseeable future. This is a time later generations will read about in their history books.
As we continue to practice social distancing, online resources are becoming increasingly important. Fortunately, there are virtual tools available to help you with a variety of activities, including filing your taxes. These resources, including MyFreeTaxes and TurboTax, allow you to file your taxes safely, from the comfort of your home, and often without having money withheld by for-profit tax preparation companies. And, with the recent extension of the tax deadline, you now have an additional 90 days to file your taxes without a penalty.
If you are between the ages of 25 and 64 and earn less than $56,000 a year, you may also qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a tax benefit for working people that reduces the amount of taxes owed and often provides a significant refund. While the amount is based on the number of children in your household, it is often between $2,000 and $6,000 per eligible person; the average Oklahoma refund was $2,470 in 2018.
This amount is substantial by most means, but can be particularly monumental during this uncertain time when working families are affected by the slowdown in economic activity. Qualifying individuals can claim the EITC when they file, and those who have already submitted their taxes for 2019 can still file an adjustment; it’s not too late.
Don’t let the coronavirus stop you from getting the money you’re owed. This spring, practice social distancing, wash your hands and remember to file your taxes. It might just lead to an EITC check that could, quite literally, change your life.
Moore is executive director of Let’s Fix This and an OKC Tax Help Community Ambassador.