Eligible city residents can once again have their taxes prepared for free this year thanks to the Boston Tax Help Coalition.
The group announced on February 3 that it was launching its preparatory assistance for the 2021 tax season, with a focus this year on delivering these services while keeping COVID-19 safeguards in mind.
“I urge all qualified Bostonians to take advantage of the Boston Tax Help Coalition’s safe and free tax preparation,” Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement. “The Boston Tax Help Coalition’s experts can help residents financially affected by COVID-19 maximize their reimbursement and receive the highest earned income tax credit.”
Around 13,000 local taxpayers have their taxes prepared by the coalition each year, resulting in refunds and credits of $ 24 million, according to official figures.
Here’s what you should know about the program:
Am i eligible?
City residents who worked in 2020 and made less than $ 57,000 can have their taxes prepared for free.
The service is offered in multiple languages including English, Spanish, Cape Verdean Creole, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, French, Vietnamese, Mandarin, and Cantonese.
What should I do?
To make an appointment, qualified residents can either call 311 or make an appointment online at www.bostontaxhelp.org.
Full filing services are also available online. This year there are no accessible appointments.
“The tax coalition is committed to fully engaging and serving all Boston residents regardless of their immigrant status. So feel free to call,” said Yusufi Vali, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Advancement, during a virtual launch week announcement.
According to Vali, the BTHC won’t have the usual 30 locations this year, but there will be a drop-off point in every region of Boston.
What else should i know?
Residents who lost their jobs and incomes in the past year as the COVID-19 pandemic continued could see their tax refunds “negatively impacted,” Vali said.
“The experts at BTHC can work with you to maximize your refund and get the highest tax credit (EITC) you are entitled to,” said Vali.
A “lookback provision” created by Congress as part of the latest stimulus package, city officials say, allows taxpayers to use their 2019 income to determine their 2020 EITC if their 2019 income is higher than their 2020 income.
Vali said residents should bring their 2019 tax returns to their preparation date to use this new rule to calculate their tax returns.
“It can lead to more money for our residents,” he said.
According to Vali, the EITC is a “refundable credit for low-wage workers,” and the average amount returned to taxpayers in 2020 was $ 2,461. However, approximately 20 percent of all eligible applicants do not receive credit, he said.
“I cannot say enough about the importance of the EITC and child tax credits,” he said. “These credits can add thousands of dollars to your tax return, but you … can only get these credits if you apply for them on your tax return.”
Filers must have a Social Security number to receive these credits, although filers with a custom tax number can still have their taxes done and get a refund from the IRS, Vali said.
In addition to tax preparation, the BTHC can also refer taxpayers to the city’s Bank On Boston initiative, which “helps residents identify safe, affordable and non-predatory banking services,” the authorities said.
As part of the Boston Builds Credit program, taxpayers can also receive a financial audit: “A one-on-one interview where a taxpayer can check their creditworthiness using a guide and receive personalized credit formation strategies,” according to city officials.
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