Unless you’re a tax whiz, tax preparation can be time consuming and costly. Fortunately, if your household earned less than $66,000 in 2018, United Way’s MyFreeTaxes makes it free and easy to file. In many cases, the result is a bigger refund.
“MyFreeTaxes creates a win-win for working families by eliminating tax prep fees and ensuring maximum refund amounts,” said Megan Thibos, Director of Financial Empowerment initiatives at United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “With these savings, families can pay off debt, build a financial safety net or simply have more money to put toward basic needs like food and utilities.”
The program is made available thanks to a partnership between United Way and H&R Block. MyFreeTaxes allows you to file state and federal returns for free online and can handle almost any tax situation.
However, it does not process City of Detroit returns. If you live or work in the City of Detroit, and need to file city income taxes, TurboTax Free File is a good online option. This program is available to anyone who makes less than $34,000, or less than $66,000 for active military. It’s also available to anyone who qualifies for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The TurboTax Free File program includes your federal, state, and local tax returns and can also handle self-employed tax returns.
In addition to MyFreeTaxes, free, in-person tax preparation is also available through United Way partners at the Accounting Aid Society and Wayne Metro Community Action Agency to families who made less than $54,000 in 2018.
Last year, more than 22,000 individuals and families in the Metro Detroit region took advantage of free in-person tax prep. Many more were able to do the same using free online services. These services put thousands of dollars back in families’ pockets by ensuring they receive all credits they’re eligible for.
“We found that a lot of people fail to claim the credits they’re entitled to simply because taxes are complicated, or because they don’t know that they qualify,” Megan said. “We focus on simplifying the process so that families in our region can get more money back in refunds.”
These programs support our broader Economic Prosperity work by helping people keep more of what they earn. Increased refunds can help families start a savings account, pay bills or make important purchases.
“When we unite with other organizations towards common goals, we’re able to make a major difference in local communities,” Megan said.
We’re also making sure that, if families qualify, they file for the EITC. This gives working individuals with low to moderate incomes more money in their pockets at tax time. Families with and without children are all eligible for the credit, though the amount depends on income and family situation.
In 2018, more than 85,000 Detroiters claimed nearly $300 million in EITC refunds alone. That’s an increase of 15 percent compared to 2016 and an average of $3,000 back into families’ pockets — just from the EITC. Additional tax credits, such as the child tax credit, can boost families’ refunds even more.
“We’re excited about the 2019 tax season because we know the tremendous positive impact that is made when families are able to add a bit more money to their budgets,” Megan said.