Get Help with Your Taxes
Do I need to file a tax return to
get the stimulus payment?
If you are not required to file taxes (learn more below) and you did not submit your payment information to the IRS either online through the IRS non-filers tool or by submitting a simplified tax return before November 21, 2020, file a 2020 tax return to claim your stimulus check by claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit.
If you earned some money but too little to need to file a return, remember that by filing a tax return, you may be able to get additional money if you are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. See more information below.
- Individuals filing as single who earned less than $12,400 (or less than $14,050 if age 65 or older)
- Married couples filing jointly who earned less than $24,800 (or less than $26,100 if one spouse was age 65 or older or less than $27,400 if both spouses were age 65 or older)
- Individuals filing as married filing separately who earned less than $5
- Individuals filing as head of household who earned less than $18,650 (or less than $20,300 if age 65 or older)
- Individuals filing as qualifying widow(er) who earned less than $24,800 (or less than $26,100 if age 65 or older)
But, even if your income is under the limits shown above, there are other reasons why you still need to file, including;
- Your net earnings from self-employment was $400 or more (please note that net earnings is how much money you made after subtracting expenses and that rideshare driving and many other kinds of gig work is considered self-employment income)
- You had health insurance through the Marketplace and received money from the government to help pay your premiums
- You have a Health Savings Account (HSA) and you received a distribution from your HSA
A full list of reasons why you might still need to file is found on the IRS website.
Still not sure if you need to file taxes? Learn more by using the IRS Do I Need to File a Tax Return tool.
Some individuals who are not required to file a return should still consider filing a return to receive a refund. Common situations would be filing to get tax withholdings back or filing to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit. See a full list of situations below.
If you would benefit from filing a tax return to get a refund even if you do not have a filing requirement, please consider using the IRS Free File Program to file your return online and including your banking information to get your refund, as well as your stimulus payment, more quickly.
The full list of those who don’t have a filing requirement but who should file:
- You had income tax withheld from your pay, pension, social security or other income.
- You made estimated tax payments for the year or had any of your overpayment for last year’s estimated tax applied to this year’s taxes.
- You qualify for the earned income credit. Visit the IRS Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) webpage for more information and use this EITC Eligibility Checker.
- You qualify for the additional child tax credit.
- You qualify for the refundable credit for prior year minimum tax. See Form 8801, Credit for Prior Year Minimum Tax — Individuals, Estates, and Trusts.
- You qualify for a refundable American Opportunity Credit.
- You receive a 1099-B and the gross proceeds plus other income exceeds the filing limits in Chart A.
- You receive Form 1099-S, Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions.
- You qualify for the federal tax on fuels.
- You are required to file a state return.
- You qualify for the Premium Tax Credit.
I still need to file a return -
what are my options?
File Online for Free
If you earn less than $72,000 a year, you are eligible to use online tax software at no cost through Free File on the IRS website.
If you do not have income from a business (including self-employment income, like rideshare driving and other kinds of gig work), income or losses from investments, or income from rental property, then you may be eligible to use United Way’s MyFreeTaxes website.
If you want step-by-step guidance on how to use the IRS Free File version of TurboTax to file your 2020 return online for free, we have prepared videos and written guides:
For someone who received only Social Security benefits in 2020:
For someone who had only W-2 income in 2020:
You may be able to receive more money with your Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) this year! Due a new “look-back” provision in the last relief bill, you may receive a higher EITC and Child Tax Credit if you earned less in 2020 than in 2019. You can use your 2019 earnings to calculate those credits if that would give you higher credits than using your 2020 earnings. Be sure to have your 2019 tax return available when you prepare your 2020 tax return.
You may be eligible to have your taxes prepared for free by nonprofit organizations participating in the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. To find your nearest VITA site, visit https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep.