IRS tax day is here. Don’t miss out on a refund or these easy-to-miss credits for low-income earners

The deadline to file your personal federal tax return is Monday, April 15. If you live in Maine or Massachusetts, you get a couple extra days. If you haven’t done this yet or are not required to file because of low income, the Free File tool from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may be the solution you didn’t know you needed. Here are a few things to know:

Am I eligible for the Free File tool?

This free service is a result of a partnership between the IRS and multiple tax preparation software companies. To qualify, your adjusted gross income (AGI) must be below $79,000. (There is even a Spanish-language option.)

But I heard I wasn’t required to file taxes at all

As a single person, it’s true that you are not required to file if your gross income is less than $13,850. If you are married and filing jointly, this goes up to $27,700. However, low-income earners who are not required to file should consider doing it anyway, the IRS says. That’s because you might still be owed a refund or additional tax credits.

Don’t assume that because you don’t owe taxes you are not eligible for a refund, as that is simply not the case, the IRS emphasizes. You have to file to get money back. Importantly, low-income filers may also be eligible for tax credits. These include: 

  • The Earned Income Tax Credit
  • The Child Tax Credit
  • The Child & Dependent Credit
  • The Premium Tax Credit

If you do not have a bank account in which to receive a direct deposit refund, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) can help. Its website is full of useful information on banks that will let you open an account online. It’s the FDIC’s mission to help everyone “get banked.” Veterans should check out the Veterans Benefits Banking Program to get help opening an account.

I don’t qualify for Free File. Now what?

If you don’t qualify for the Free File service, you are not out of luck. If you are well-versed in IRS form instructions and publications, consider using the organization’s Free File Fillable Forms. If that is not your specialty, consider utilizing the free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Older adults can also check out Tax Counseling for the Elderly.

Sorry, this is too much to deal with right now

If you are behind on completing your taxes, you can also file an extension through the IRS Free File tool. It is the simplest way to do so and will give you another six months. Your new deadline would become October 15.