Get Help with Your Taxes

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Do I need to file a tax return to
get the stimulus payment?

If you are not required to file taxes (learn more below), you do not have to file a return to get the stimulus payment - you should enter your payment information on the IRS non-filer portal to get the stimulus payment. But, you may want to go through normal tax filing to get additional money.

Even if you don’t have to file taxes, filing may help you get additional money if you are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit or another refund. If you want to file because you’re entitled to a tax refund, do not enter your information on the IRS non-filer portal - instead, file your return to get your refund and the stimulus payment. Learn more about who needs to file below.

The IRS is working through a large backlog of paper tax returns. Filing taxes online and adding bank account information for direct deposit will help you get your check faster. To get a safe, affordable bank account online through BankOn, visit our Banking Help page.

Learn more about what you need to prepare for the IRS non-filer portal.

Who is not required to file a 2019 return?
  • Individuals filing as single who earned less than $12,200 (or less than $13,850 if age 65 or older)
  • Married couples filing jointly who earned less than $24,400 (or less than $25,700 if one spouse was age 65 or older or less than $27,000 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 $18.350 (or less than $20,000 if age 65 or older)
  • Individuals filing as qualifying widow(er) who earned less than $24,400 (or less than $25,700 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.

You could get money back, even if you don’t need to file a tax return.

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:

  1. You had income tax withheld from your pay, pension, social security or other income.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. You qualify for the additional child tax credit.
  5. You qualify for the refundable credit for prior year minimum tax. See Form 8801, Credit for Prior Year Minimum Tax — Individuals, Estates, and Trusts.
  6. You qualify for a refundable American Opportunity Credit.
  7. You receive a 1099-B and the gross proceeds plus other income exceeds the filing limits in Chart A.
  8. You receive Form 1099-S, Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions.
  9. You qualify for the federal tax on fuels.
  10. You are required to file a state return.
  11. You qualify for the Premium Tax Credit.
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I still need to file a return -
what are my options?

File online for free

If you earn less than $69,000 a year, you are eligible to use online tax software at no cost through Free File on the IRS website. You can use the Free File Online Lookup Tool to help find the software that works best for your situation.

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.

Get help from Ladder Up

You may be also eligible to have your taxes prepared by Ladder Up, an Illinois nonprofit organization, for free. Ladder Up is currently working on developing free online tax preparation services for full-year Illinois residents.

Learn if you are eligible. Sign up here for communications from Ladder Up to be notified when online services become available. Ladder Up also has additional information posted on its COVID-19 Response page.

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