The Internal Revenue Service and partners from the states and tax industry remind taxpayers that the nation’s 2017 individual income tax filing season opens Monday, Jan. 23. The IRS expects more than 153 million tax returns to be filed this year and taxpayers have until Tuesday, April 18, to file their 2016 tax returns and pay any tax due. The deadline is extended because the Emancipation Day, a holiday in Washington, D.C., will be observed on Monday, April 17, pushing the nation’s filing deadline to April 18.
There is a new law that goes into effect this year called the “Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016” – Under federal law, Veterans who suffer combat-related injuries and who are separated from the military are not supposed to be taxed on the one-time lump sum disability severance payment they receive from the Department of Defense. More than $78 million is owed to an estimated 14,000 Veterans. This law corrects this problem by instructing DOD to identify Veterans who were taxed in order for them to file an amended return to receive their money back.
Choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund. The IRS anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days from the time returns are received.
Each year, millions of tax returns are prepared for free by taxpayers using IRS Free File or by volunteers at community organization sites nationwide.
IRS trained and certified volunteers at thousands of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (VITA and TCE) sites nationwide offer free tax preparation and e-filing. VITA offers free tax return preparation to taxpayers who earn $54,000 or less. The TCE program is mainly for people age 60 or older and focuses on tax issues unique to seniors. AARP participates in the TCE program and helps taxpayers with low to moderate incomes.
- To find the closest VITA site, visit IRS.gov and search the word “VITA.” The IRS2Go Mobile App can help find free tax preparation assistance, check your refund status and more! Site information is also available by calling the IRS at 800-906-9887.
- To locate the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, visit AARP.org, or call 888-227-7669. There are also VITA and TCE sites that provide bilingual help for taxpayers who have limited English skills.
IRS Free File lets taxpayers who earned less than $64,000 prepare and e-file a return for free. Go to IRS.gov and click on the ‘Filing’ tab for options on using commercial tax software. Commercial partners of the IRS offer free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $64,000 or less. Seventy percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. Those who earned more than $64,000 are still eligible for Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. This more basic Free File option is best for people who are comfortable preparing their own tax returns.
The IRS urges taxpayers to avoid fly-by-night preparers who may not be available after this year’s April 18 due date or who base their fees on a percentage of the refund. The IRS also reminds taxpayers that a new law requires all refunds on returns that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) be held until February 15. This change helps the IRS detect and prevent fraud.
For more information about veterans please go to the “Information for Veterans” website on IRS.gov.
Editor’s note: VA does not endorse any of these sites, but brings your attention to them as they have free tax services available specifically for Veterans and their families.
Richard Keeling is a senior tax analyst with the IRS’s Disability & Veteran Programs/National Partnerships office.