IRS Free File Can Help Those With No Filing Requirement Find Overlooked Tax Credits and Get a Refund


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WASHINGTON — April 14, 2022 – The Internal Revenue Service today urged low- to moderate-income individuals and families, especially those who don’t normally file a tax return, to use IRS Free File to prepare their own federal tax return, file electronically and get a refund by direct deposit – all for free. The tax software guides people through each section of their tax return using a question-and-answer format. It’s safe, easy and free to file a federal return.

Individuals who didn’t earn enough money to require them to file may mistakenly assume that since they owe no tax they’re not entitled to a refund. They may, however, be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Child & Dependent Care Credit, the Premium Tax Credit or the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit. These credits are refundable and can result in a refund, even if the individual owes no income tax. More information on these credits is available in IRS: Expanded credits for families highlight tax changes for 2021; many people who don’t normally file should file this year.

This year’s federal tax filing deadline for individuals is April 18. The only way to get a refund is to file a tax return. Taxpayers can use electronic filing options including IRS Free File available on IRS.gov through October 17 to prepare and file returns electronically.

IRS Free File offers free access to leading tax software to anyone who has an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $73,000 or less.

Available only at IRS.gov, IRS Free File offers low- to moderate-income families those experiencing homelessness, students who are now on their own or may have only worked part time and others a fast and easy way to access these benefits. Anyone can use IRS Free File by accessing a computer or similar device. No computer? No problem. IRS Free File products support mobile phone access, too.

Eligible people who did not receive a third-round of the Economic Impact Payment or received less than the full amount may claim the Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2021 tax return. More information on claiming the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit can be found on 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit Questions and Answers.

And that’s where IRS Free File comes in. It’s a free way to claim the full amount of tax benefits and ensure that eligible people get their refund. Look for an IRS Free File product with “no minimum income,” file electronically and choose direct deposit.

Through IRS Free File, leading tax software providers make their online products available for free as part of a 20-year partnership with the IRS. There are eight software products in English and two in Spanish. Visit IRS.gov/freefile for details. In addition, MilTax, available free through the Department of Defense, offers a similar online tax-preparation service to members of the military.

Because IRS Free File returns are filed electronically, the service offers everyone a great way to get their money quickly. This is especially true for anyone who chooses to have their refund deposited directly into a savings or checking account.

Don’t have a bank account to direct deposit a refund? Visit the FDIC website or the National Credit Union Administration using their Credit Union Locator Tool for information on where to find a bank or credit union to open an account online. Veterans can see the Veterans Benefits Banking Program (VBBP) for access to financial services at participating banks. Many reloadable prepaid cards have account and routing numbers that can be provided to the IRS for a direct deposit. People should check to ensure their card can be used to have their refund applied to the card and to obtain the routing number and account number, which may be different from the card number.

The IRS urges everyone to consider taking advantage of the speed and convenience of IRS Free File. This includes:

  • People experiencing homelessness. As long as they are not someone’s dependent, chances are they still qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit even if they have little or no income. They can still use Free File even if their only access to the Internet is through a smartphone. Look for An IRS Free File product with “no minimum income.” (People experiencing homelessness may list the address of a friend, relative or trusted service provider, such as a shelter, drop-in day center or transitional housing program, on the tax return).
  • Families who had a baby or adopted a child during 2021 or who added a dependent – including a parent, a nephew or niece, or a grandchild – on their 2021 income tax return who was not listed as a dependent on their 2020 income tax return likely did not receive a stimulus payment for that qualifying child or dependent. They may be eligible to claim a 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit and must file a 2021 tax return to claim a credit of up to $1,400.
  • All eligible parents of qualifying children born or welcomed through adoption or foster care in 2021 are also encouraged to claim the Child Tax Credit – worth up to $3,600 per child born in 2021 – on their 2021 income tax return.
  • Low- to moderate-income workers and working families who don’t normally file a return may miss out on certain credits for individuals including the EITC, the Child Tax Credit, the Child & Dependent Credit, the Premium Tax Credit if they don’t file.

In order to validate and successfully submit an electronically filed tax return to the IRS, taxpayers need their Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI, from their most recent tax return. For those waiting on their 2020 tax return to be processed, here’s a special tip to ensure the tax return is accepted by the IRS for processing. Make sure to enter $0 (zero dollars) for last year’s AGI on the 2021 tax return. For those who used a Non-Filer tool in 2021 to register for an advance Child Tax Credit or third Economic Impact Payment in 2021, they should enter $1 as their prior year AGI. Everyone else should enter their prior year’s AGI from last year’s return. Remember, if using the same tax preparation software as last year, this field will auto-populate.

For those who are not comfortable doing their own return, IRS-trained community volunteers offer tax help at more than 11,000 tax help sites, nationwide. To find the nearest site, visit IRS.gov/volunteers, or call 800-906-9887.