With assistance, filing those returns need not be taxing

It’s that time of year. Income tax filing season is underway. Taxpayers have until Monday, April 15 to file state and federal income taxes and make payments.

Low-income people with disabilities can find help with tax preparation but it’s best to act quickly. Services can be in demand and appointment slots can rapidly fill up.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue and taxpayer assistance groups offer many helpful tips as tax season begins.

More than 64 percent of Minnesota taxpayers may qualify to file their taxes electronically for free. One benchmark of eligibility is if a person’s adjusted gross income is $66,000 or less.

Check to see what free tax preparation services are available. Minnesota has more than 200 free tax preparation sites available across Minnesota through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and AARP Tax-Aide programs. The Internal Revenue Service certifies volunteers from both programs to prepare basic tax returns in Minnesota communities.

“Along with free tax preparation software, these free tax preparation sites are another available resource for Minnesotans to get help with their 2018 taxes,” said Minnesota Department of Revenue Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly. “Volunteers at these sites across the state are certified by the IRS and are ready to help qualified individuals file their tax returns on time and accurately.”

VITA help is available for persons age 60 and older, and for people with disabilities. People who speak limited or no English can also get help. Qualifying parties need to have annual income of $55,000 or less.

The AARP Tax-Aide program offers free tax preparation for all Minnesotans, particularly those age 50 or older. Unlike VITA sites, AARP Tax-Aide sites don’t have income restrictions. Search for a site here on the Department of Revenue website. Use its search feature and interactive map for help, searching by zip code or county. Find sites with military return expertise and expertise in languages other than English on the website too.

Persons seeking assistance may call 651-297-3724 or 1-800-657-3989 (toll-free).

Other resources are available, through community action programs and community centers. Libraries often have tax forms available. Another good resource for tax preparation is the nonprofit program Prepare and Prosper. Find out more here.

Visiting a site for help? Bring items including a photo ID, W-2 information, banking information for direct deposit, and other applicable items. The Department of Revenue website outlines the types of forms to bring to an appointment.

Ask if the forms can be filed electronically and see if direct deposition can be used for a refund. Electronically filing tax forms and choosing direct deposit for a refund is the most secure and convenient way to file taxes and get a refund in a timely manner. Learn more about electronic filing options and the benefits of choosing direct deposit during the tax appointment.

Take time to make sure information is accurate, including correct name spellings and Social Security numbers, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) cards, and bank accounting routing numbers. With names, use proper names as they appear on a Social Security card.

Save and bring receipts and other tax-related documents. Bring all needed documentation for any claimed deductions or credits.

People sometimes have to change residences after filing a return. In the event of a move, contact the state and IRS. That way any refund checks or other mailings will be sent to the correct address. For state address changes, call 651-296-3781 or 1-800-652-9094 (toll-free). IRS change of address information is at www.irs.gov or call 1-800-829-4477.

File returns by the April 15 due date, even if money is owed and cannot be paid. Pay as much as possible by the due date and contact state and federal officials to set up payment agreements for the remaining balance. Banking information can be included on paper or electronic tax forms. Payments can be set up for a specific date.

If income tax refunds are due, the state and federal websites have ways to track those, online. Anyone who wishes information on a federal refund, but cannot use the Internet, can call 1-800-829-4477 or 1-800-829-1954. Don’t spend a refund until it appears in a bank account, if direct deposit is used.

Returns may take longer to process due to the increasing number of refund scams, stolen personal information and identity theft. Changes in federal tax law could also have an impact.

With property tax refunds from the state, be aware that state law prohibits those from being processed before July 1.

For additional help, visit www.revenue.state.mn.us/