The federal income tax deadline is coming up April 18. A handful of organizations are available in Michigan to help people with incomes at $57,000 or below file their taxes for free. You can search for an organization near you here.
Accounting Aid Society is one of the groups that services Southeast Michigan. Matt Hetherwick is the director of individual tax programs there. WDET’s Laura Herberg asked Hetherwick about free tax assistance programs and the Child Tax Credit. Click the audio player to hear their conversation or read a transcript, edited for length and clarity, below.
Listen: Accounting Aid Society’s Matt Hetherwick on free tax assistance and the Child Tax Credit.
Laura Herberg, WDET News: Who should file their 2021 taxes?
Matt Hetherwick, director of individual tax programs, Accounting Aid Society: Everybody! Well, I say “everybody” but anybody who has a filing requirement should file. And then most importantly, with the changing tax law this past year, anybody who has a child dependent should be filing a tax return so they can access their Child Tax Credit. That’s regardless of whether they have income or not.
Remind us what the Child Tax Credit is.
The Child Tax Credit is a tax credit through the code that, last year, during the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) approval in March, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) put in place to increase the amount of the tax credit. In the past, the way you accessed it was if you had earned income. When they changed it they made it what they call a fully refundable tax credit now, which means you don’t have to have taxable income to be able to take any benefit from it.
You can file a tax return as long as you have an eligible dependent. If they’re between the ages of 6 and 17 the total credit’s worth $3,000. If the dependent’s under that age, from 0 to 5, it would be $3,600.
Now there is the advanced portion that was paid out last year for those that had put their information into the IRS system, either through the portal or had filed a tax return in the past, but the general idea is that it’s a way to help support our families in America,
What is the expected impact of the credit?
The impact was to help reduce childhood poverty and to help reduce food insecurities in our nation’s households. We saw instant immediate impact of that. Those payments started in July of 2021 and after one month there was a drastic reduction in childhood poverty. There was also a drastic reduction with food insecurities. Families who were concerned about being able to put meals on the tables every day, that was alleviated. They didn’t have that concern like they had the prior month.
What kind of assistance does the Accounting Aid Society offer and who’s eligible for it?
We are part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program with the IRS. We provide no cost tax preparation services for individuals and families whose income are $58,000* and below. We also assist with what we call our Low Income Tax Clinic, which helps serve people who may have issues with prior year filings with the IRS. So maybe they owe money, maybe they’ve gotten a letter and they need assistance with it, our clinic’s there to assist with that as well.
[Editor’s Note: The Accounting Aid Society website says “Families and individuals with incomes up to $57,000 may be eligible for free tax help.”]
And if someone needs assistance, how do they sign up for it?
The best way is to either call us at 313-556-1920 or visit our website at AccountingAidSociety.org where you can schedule an appointment.
With the the tax deadline coming up, what else would you like our listeners to know?
I think the important thing is that if you are going to owe money filing your taxes, you need to come in and get your taxes filed before the deadline, which is April 18 this year. And if you can’t make it by then you should get an extension filed.
If you do not owe, say you’re someone who traditionally does not have to file a tax return, but you do have an eligible child dependent that could access this Child Tax Credit, you can file after April 18. We’re here all year-round. You’ll be able to come in in May, June, July, August, September, maybe even October, November. We’ll be here to help support because it’s that important to make sure that anybody who needs this type of assistance gets it.