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COVID-19 Tax Resources

Written by Western Maine CA$H | Published on March 19, 2020
tax forms with pen and computer mouse

Get It Back: Tax Credits for People Who Work – March 18, 2020

With the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, taxes may not be at the top of your mind. Even if they are, you may not want to travel outside your house for tax preparation help. Here’s what you need to know to file your taxes in 2020.

1. There is a 90-day extension to pay taxes

If you already filed this season—great! Your taxes will be processed normally and refunds will still be sent out. The federal tax deadline is April 15, so you should still file your returns as you normally would, but you can defer any payments until July 15 without interest or penalties.

For many, COVID-19 is already affecting livelihoods and finances. If you think you will receive a refund this tax season, especially if you qualify for valuable tax credits, you may want to prioritize filing soon to get that boost from a tax refund.

It is important to note that states have different rules.

2. Some states are extending their tax deadlines

Some states have started to extend the tax deadlines due to Coronavirus concerns. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is tracking state tax deadlines that are changing due to COVID-19 relief measures.

Even though the federal payment deadline is now July 15, you may still have an April 15 filing and payment deadline for your state taxes. Make sure you know when your state taxes are due, so you don’t incur penalties.

3. You can file for a tax extension

If you need more time to file your taxes, you can file for an extension, which provides an additional six months to submit your tax return.

To file for an extension, complete Form 4868Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. You can submit this form online using a free tax filing program (see number 4) or by mail. If you mail the form, get a Certificate of Mailing, or other documentation that shows you mailed the form by April 15.

It is important to note that filing an extension does not mean you get an extension on payments. You are still required to pay any taxes you owe by July 15.

4. You can file your taxes virtually

If you’re comfortable using computers and confident preparing your own taxes, consider using a free online tax software. IRS Free File is one option available if your income is $69,000 or less. If you choose to use one of the programs that are part of this coalition, be careful to read the fine print. (Each program has slightly different criteria for their software). In addition, some companies offer free state tax returns, while others don’t.

MyFreeTaxes is another online tool that helps you file your taxes for free. Unlike Free File, MyFreeTaxes does not have an income limit. However, if you need to file Schedule C for business income, then you will not be able to use the free software.

5. You can find tax support virtually (and it’s free)

Code for America, in partnership with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA, an IRS-sponsored free tax preparation program), has created a fully virtual intake process for free tax assistance. Visit Get Your Refund to connect with an IRS-certified volunteer who will help you file your taxes.

Your local VITA site may also have virtual options. Some VITA programs provide a drop-off site, where you can drop off your tax forms to have a tax preparer complete your return and contact you when it is ready to review before it is sent to the IRS. Look up your local VITA program and call to see if this is a service they provide.