Worried about filing your taxes? Not sure where to start? Here is some information to help you.
I didn’t file last year. So why should I file this year?
Even if you have not filed taxes in a while, you can still benefit from filing your tax return. You may have thousands of dollars waiting for you in unclaimed cash payments!
I’m concerned that I’m going to owe and can’t afford to pay my taxes, so isn’t it better to not file taxes?
You won’t know whether, and how much, you owe until you actually file. It’s possible you might get a pleasant surprise and have a refund instead!
If you do owe, it’s better to file before the deadline and set up a payment plan with the IRS rather than not file at all. Back taxes will pile up, and the longer you have gone without filing, the more you may owe in penalties and fees. You may be eligible for the Child Tax Credit, which could offset up to $2,000 per child of back taxes owed.
What happens if there’s a mistake on my taxes? Or if I get audited?
We’ve got your back. Our non-profit, IRS-certified tax experts at Accounting Aid Society and Wayne Metro have higher accuracy rates than the big for-profit tax prep companies.
If you have received an audit letter from the IRS, we can help! The Accounting Aid Society has a special service just for helping people deal with the IRS. To get help with an IRS letter, just make a regular tax appointment with the Accounting Aid Society and we’ll pair you with the right tax expert.
What if I have missed filing in past years? Will the tax experts help me file previous years taxes?
Yes! During the main tax season (from January through April 15), our tax experts focus on filing current-year taxes so we can help as many people as possible. During the summer and fall, we offer appointments to file prior-year tax returns and claim your payments for previous years. Pre-register for an appointment in 2024 to complete your current-year taxes and come back for a second appointment during the summer to complete your prior-year taxes.
Why should I file taxes when I don’t make enough money to bother? I was out of work in 2023.
More and more, the federal government is using the IRS to distribute benefits. When you file your taxes, you may find that you are owed cash benefits! If you worked even a little bit, you may be eligible to receive extra money through the Earned Income Tax Credit. And the Child Tax Credit provides up to $2,000 per child to parents, guardians and caregivers of dependent children, so long as you earned at least $2,500 in the last year. Even people who did not earn much in 2023 can still receive a big refund. You may also qualify for Michigan tax credits, which do not require any earned income.
I do not work and my only income comes from Social Security payments. Do I qualify for these cash benefits?
If you have no income from work, you may qualify for tax-time benefits through the State of Michigan to help you cover the cost of heating and owning or renting your home. If you have even a little bit of income from work—from a part-time job or self-employment—you may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. If you are a parent or guardian and earned at least $2,500 from work in 2023, you may qualify for the Child Tax Credit, worth up to $2,000 per child. Our tax experts at Accounting Aid Society and Wayne Metro can help you figure out your eligibility and claim your cash payments.
I missed the deadline, can I still file?
Yes! There’s no penalty for filing late if you receive a refund. Even if you do owe money, it’s best to file as soon as possible to minimize penalties. During the main tax season (January through April 15), our tax partners focus on filing current-year taxes so we can help as many people as possible. During the summer and fall, we offer appointments to file late tax returns for the current year as well as tax returns for previous years.Get expert help filing your taxes at no cost to you.
Questions About Children and Dependents
I had a baby in 2023. Can I claim the Child Tax Credit for my new child?
Yes! You are eligible for the Child Tax Credit for the new child, so long as you earned at least $2,500 from working in 2023. To claim your credit, you must file a 2023 tax return in early 2024. We can help you file your taxes and claim your payment.
Someone else claimed my child on their taxes last year, or I expect someone else to claim my child on their taxes in 2024. What should I know?
If someone else claimed your child on their taxes last year and you expect that person to claim your child again on their taxes in 2024:
If the child lives with you more than six months out of the year but someone else usually claims them on their taxes, talk to a tax professional for advice. Make a no-cost appointment with one of our tax prep partners to get help.
If someone else claimed your child on their taxes last year but you expect to claim your child on your taxes in 2024:
If you claim the child on your tax return in 2024, and no one else does, you will be eligible to receive the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit for that child. Only one person or family can claim a particular child at the same time.
If you and someone else both claim your child in the same year, your refund may be delayed. Ask a tax professional for advice. Make a no-cost appointment with one of our tax prep partners to get help.
My household and/or dependents have changed in the last year. How do I know if I’m still eligible?
The Child Tax Credit or the Earned Income Tax Credit count dependents based on whether the child lives with you at least half of the year and how old they are on December 31 of the tax year. If you had a baby born in 2023, you can claim that baby for the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit if you meet the income guidelines.
Children under age 17 are eligible for the Child Tax Credit. If your child turned age 17 before December 31, 2023, that child is no longer eligible for the Child Tax Credit.
For the Earned Income Tax Credit, children under age 19 are eligible. If your child turned 19 before December 31, 2023, that child is no longer eligible—unless the child is a full-time student. Children who are full-time students are eligible until they turn 24.
Questions About Tax Documentation
What’s the difference between a W2 and 1099? How do I know which one that I need?
The forms are similar. Both show how much money you earned from an organization for tax purposes. The important thing is that any organization that paid you money for work in 2023 should give you either a W2 or a 1099. You might also receive a 1099 for unearned income, such as unemployment income and lottery or gambling winnings, which are taxable. You should collect all your W2s and 1099s and bring them with you to your tax appointment.
Really want to know the details? A W2 is a form that you receive from your employer showing how much money you made for tax purposes. If you are hired as an employee under federal employment law, you will receive a W2. A 1099 is a similar form that you receive from an organization that paid you money as an independent contractor. Many gig jobs, like driving for Uber or Lyft or freelancing, are technically independent contracting arrangements and will provide a 1099.
I do not know where my W2s (or 1099s) are. Can you help me find them?
Only your employer or the organization you contracted with can provide you with your W2 and 1099 forms. Organizations will usually mail the correct form to you so that you have it in mid to late January. Make sure your employer or the organization you contracted with has your current address! The form may be available to download and print from your employer’s online HR system. If you didn’t receive yours, you will need to contact your employer or the organization you contracted with for help.
Questions About Receiving My Taxes (I Filed)
I filed my taxes but haven’t received my payment yet. What can I do?
If you don’t have a bank account on file with the IRS, your payment will be sent to you in the mail. It may take several weeks to arrive. Direct deposit into your bank account is the fastest way to get payments. Check your tax return to see whether you gave the IRS your bank account information and, if so, that it is the correct bank account.
If you received the Earned Income Tax Credit, the IRS starts sending refunds in mid-February. By law, the IRS is not allowed to send EITC refunds during the first few weeks of tax season.
How do I set up a bank account so I can receive direct deposits (instead of having a paper check mailed to me)?
BankOn offers safe, low cost banking options. If you want local or one-on-one assistance, the City of Detroit’s Financial Empowerment Center can help you in setting up a bank account.