Keep Calm and Prep for Tax Season Early On

3 minute read

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Tax season has officially arrived. Though it can be stressful, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: a sweet, sweet refund. Most Americans will get a refund, and refunds can go to a variety of things - some people use it to fund a big-ticket item, some to pay down debt, some to save.

No matter what you are planning, getting started sooner rather than later can be a lifesaver, especially if you plan to fill out taxes yourself. There are pros and cons to this, of course, and there’s also the option of hiring a tax expert, but it can cost hundreds of dollars.

If neither of those options sounds appealing, don’t worry, there might be something better —

The VITA Program (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance)

If your household makes less than $55,000 a year, you may qualify for VITA. Here’s how it works — volunteers are trained and certified by the IRS to help you get your maximum federal and state refund for free.

All you have to do is dial 2-1-1 for more info or click here to find a location near you. Remember to bring your Social Security card, ID, W-2, other tax forms (like 1099’s), and proof of childcare or tuition costs (if you have them).

EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit)

EITC is one of the most lucrative tax credits available. If you make less than $55,000 a year, you may qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit (which can be worth up to $6,000).

Here’s an IRS chart to check if you might be eligible (based on income and children):

(Note: Be sure to inform your tax preparer if you qualify.)

File Taxes Online for Free

Do you make $66,000 or less? If yes, then you may be eligible to file your taxes for free online through a United Way and H&R Block partnership. To get started, click “Login” at MyFreeTaxes.com.

The site is powered by H&R Block’s premium software to make filing quick, accurate, and safe.

Abby from Cincinnati, Ohio told Earnin that she found H&R Block “to be quite easy and very user-friendly. There were multiple spots that explained terms that might be unfamiliar,” she said. “It was very thorough and made sure you got the most money back for your return.”

But the best part for Abby was how quick and simple it was to file both state and federal taxes at the same time, and the return was processed very quickly.

Are There Any Other Free Options?

Yes. For those Americans who make above $66,000 a year or who do not qualify for either of these services, filing your taxes with Credit Karma is completely free (both federal and state, simple and complex returns are all free). 

Chris from Michigan is a Credit Karma user and told Earnin that he’s used the service for the last two years because it was super easy. “I was done with my simple return in 25 minutes last year. They also let me efile everything including state for free. And, I had my refund in four weeks!" he said.

Filing taxes can be daunting but just remember to get started early and make the most of these services.

Happy tax season, Earnin family!