Four Tips for Tax Season from United Way of Central Alabama

With tax day just around the corner, it’s a good time to highlight the costliest mistakes that tax experts say we make in filing our taxes. Since 2009, United Way has helped 1.3 million people nationwide save $260 million in filing fees, bringing back more than $1.9 billion in refunds to local communities through

United Way of Central Alabama is committed to ensuring that you can easily and accurately file your taxes to receive the refunds and credits you deserve. Using MyFreeTaxes®, you can file state and federal returns for free.

MyFreeTaxes is the largest free, online tax-filing product offered by a nonprofit. United Way makes this service available as part of our fight for the financial stability of every person in every community.

In addition to using MyFreeTaxes when filing returns, tax experts offer the following tips to minimize mistakes and maximize your refund this tax season.

Choose Carefully

One of the most common mistakes taxpayers make is selecting the wrong filing status. That can affect the credits and deductions you’re eligible for, the value of your standard deduction and even your tax bracket. When life gets complicated, taxes get more complicated, too.

For example, if a taxpayer with children is getting divorced, he or she may not know whether to file as “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately” or whether to file as “head of household.” MyFreeTaxes can help answer those questions. Use the Helpline to talk to a real person trained by the IRS. The MyFreeTaxes Helpline is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Central time daily to clarify things such as filing status. Just call 1-866-698-9435.

Check Yourself – Always double-check the basics on your tax returns and make sure your name and the names of your spouse and/or dependents and Social Security numbers are right. Make sure to double check information you’ve pulled from your W-2. Transposing numbers or entering numbers in the wrong fields are common errors.

Find What You’ve Got Coming – Nearly five million Americans leave an average of $3,000 each on the table each year by failing to claim common deductions and exemptions. MyFreeTaxes automatically screens for credit and deduction eligibility for things such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit and also lets you claim any missed stimulus payments.

Nearly 20% of eligible people don’t claim the EITC. Depending on income and number of kids, that could mean leaving $500 to $6,000 on the table. You may think you can’t get the EITC if you don’t earn enough money to file a return. Wrong. The EITC is a refundable credit, so even if you don’t owe taxes, you can still get the EITC. Check it out on!

School Yourself – Education credits are another often-overlooked benefit. Depending on the kind of academic program, what year the student is in, income and other restrictions, a student may use the American Opportunity Credit of up to $2,500 or the Lifetime Learning Credit of up to $2,000. And know that MyFreeTaxes software screens for that automatically as it guides you through your returns.