On your mark, get set, go! The 2021 tax season begins on February 12th and you have until April 15th to file. Like most people, you might want to put it off until the last minute, but this year, why not get started early with the help of free resources that are just a phone call or a mouse click away? You can do this!
Printed Federal and State Tax Forms
Like every year, to get started you will need to pull together your tax forms and instruction booklets. Printable federal forms, publications, and instructions are available on the IRS website. The most popular forms are listed up front or you can search for a form, or view a list of all the forms and instructions. For printable state tax forms and publications, go to the State of California Franchise Tax Board.
Common tax forms and their instructions are available at all libraries providing walk-up service. If you need to print other tax forms or need to file online, you can reserve and use one of our computers at our four computer center locations: Gilroy, Los Altos, Milpitas, and Saratoga. Be sure to ask library staff if you don't see a particular form and we will do our best to help you. Unfortunately, we are unable to print complete instruction booklets.
If you are among the 90% of people who prefer filing online, and brave enough to go it alone, start by visiting the IRS's FILE page to get started. If you are filing as an individual or business, you will find filing tools and answers to common questions, or you can select from a list of IRS partner sites and tools for Free File Online Options based on your adjusted gross income (AGI) and other criteria. If your AGI is less than $72,000, you will be able to use one of the many brand-name, partner tools for free and safe filing. Always use the IRS links to these partner sites to avoid fake websites or scams.
Free Online Tax Preparation Assistance
If you earned less than $57,000 in 2020, the IRS's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, the United Way, and CalWorks have partnered to provide you with secure and safe e-filing by trained volunteers via GetYourRefund.org. Fill out a quick online interview and upload your documents, and they will do the rest. You will be notified by phone, text, or email to set up a telephone conference to discuss your documentation and refund calculation, and to set up an electronic signature. This service uses a secure case management system, and keeps tax documentation and communication until the end of the year when all of your information will be deleted. This service is also available in Spanish.
Free In-Person Tax Preparation Assistance
If you do not feel comfortable filing online and want in-person assistance, or need tax assistance in languages other than English or Spanish, you can use the IRS's Find a Location tool to locate free tax assistance from community organizations. Click on "Continue to to find a location" and enter a zip code to create a list of organizations and international languages. Some organizations offer this service in Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Tagalog. You will need to call and make an appointment with some organizations.
Also, anyone over 50 with a low to moderate income can use AARP's Foundation Tax Aide Service for in-person or online tax assistance from trained IRS certified volunteers. Click on "Have Someone Prepare My Taxes" or "Prepare My Own Taxes Online" to get started. You can also try using the "Locate sites near me" link to find in-person assistance in your area.
Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payments
So what are you waiting for? If you need more assistance, remember we are just a phone call away to answer your questions or refer you to the best resources. Call a reference librarian at 408-540-3947, Monday through Saturday, 10am-6pm.