Monday, April 18, is the filing deadline to submit 2015 tax returns and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is alerting Ohioans to free tax help sites that can help ensure they receive their full refund. While filing your taxes can be complicated and challenging, getting help doesn’t need to be. It also doesn’t need to be expensive — in fact, it can be free.
Seventy percent of tax payers qualify for the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Free File program. The program partners with commercial tax preparers to offer free brand-name software to individuals and families with incomes of $62,000 or less.
There are also several Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites throughout Ohio where Ohioans can receive free, in-person tax preparation assistance. VITA sites are free and available to those who earn $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, or taxpayers who speak limited English.
Senator Brown is also encouraging Ohioans to check their eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which puts hard-earned money back in the pockets of working families. Last year, 950,000 Ohio households claimed the EITC and received an average refund of $2,400. But one in five families who are eligible for the EITC fail to claim it, missing out on thousands of dollars. Ohioans should talk to a tax preparer to see if they are eligible.
There are also numerous resources available to help taxpayers understand their obligations with respect to the Affordable Care Act. The vast majority of taxpayers will simply check a box on their return to prove they purchased insurance. But those who bought insurance through the Marketplace must complete a separate return to reconcile any advance payments of the premium tax credit. Making sure this part of your return is filled out correctly is crucial to ensuring quick delivery of your refund and ensuring you are eligible for advance premium tax credit payments going forward.
Taxpayers can visit www.healthcare.gov/taxes or www.IRS.gov/aca to better understand how their health insurance impacts their tax forms. And those who purchased health insurance through the Marketplace or believe they may qualify for an exemption from the health insurance mandate can call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 with questions. It is open all day, every day. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also have resources available.