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Lowcountry VITA is available for tax return assistance!

With the closure of our physical tax preparation sites, Lowcountry VITA is pleased to offer our residents virtual and drop-off tax assistance.  Choose which process works best for you.  The Lowcountry VITA Coalition, an initiative of Together for Beaufort County, is made possible through the continued support of the IRS, United Way of the Lowcountry, and Beaufort County Community Services.

Limited DROP-OFF Tax Preparation Program is now available

At this time, the majority of our physical sites are NOT expected to be able to re-open.  Beginning June 15 we may POSSIBLY have the ability to open more a few more drop-off sites; check back for updates.  Click here to read more more about Drop-Off Tax Preparation.

Who Qualifies for Tax Help with Lowcountry VITA?

You must be resident of the following South Carolina counties: Beaufort, Jasper, Colleton, Bamberg.

Your gross income should be less than $56,000 single or $112,000 married filing joint.

See more comprehensive guidelines here.

How Can We Help?

Virtual Tax Return Preparation

If you meet certain requirements, you may qualify for us to prepare your return virtually.  Click here for more information.

Tax Questions by Telephone

Do you have a tax question about preparing your own return? Filing status, dependents, income, deductions or tax credit questions?  If so, click here.

Drop Off Tax Preparation

Drop off your documents at one of our locations to have it prepared and returned to you.  Click here for more information.

Preparing your own return?

Free online e-filing for simple returns

Through United Way’s partnership with H&R Block, anyone with a simple return can prepare online and e-file their FEDERAL and STATE income tax return for free.  And during this difficult time, H&R Block has waived all income and age limits – so most everyone with a simple return will qualify to use the software!  This online software is extremely safe and secure, and approved by IRS.  Give it a try!

What's a "simple" return?

Most typical items qualify, including W-2s, 1099s, unemployment income, child tax credits, earned income credit, and many other common items.  It does NOT include Schedule C (self-employment income), Schedule D (asset sales) or Schedule E (rental income, partnerships, other).  Click for more details. If you don’t qualify for myfreetaxes.com, go to IRS.gov and search for “free efile” and see if you qualify to use another IRS-approved free efiling software program.

Coronavirus Relief Payment Questions

The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) provides one-time payments to individuals of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child, depending on your income level.  Early discussions contemplated more than one relief payment, but the final bill is only one payment.  However, there has been some discussion about the possibility of more relief in the near future.

U.S. Citizens and others who have valid Social Security numbers including green card holders and “resident aliens” who have been issued a Social Security number for work authorization.  Temporary visa holders, DACA recipients, and beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status should qualify.

Who does NOT qualify?  Households where ANY MEMBER OF THE HOUSEHOLD has an ITIN rather than a Social Security number.  If any member of the household has an ITIN, NO ONE is eligible for a stimulus check. (exception for Military families)

If you your income is under a certain level (see below), you will receive $1,200 for a single person and $2,400 for a couple filing a tax return with “married filing joint” status.  You will also receive an additional amount of $500 for each child age 16 or under.

If you are claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return, you will not receive a check.

Your adjusted gross income must be under the following amounts to receive the full $1,200 or $2,400:

 

Single – $75,000

Married filing joint – $150,000

Head of Household – $112,500

Above these levels, you can still qualify to receive a payment, but it will be lower.  Specifically, the payment is reduced by $5 for every $100 of income that exceeds the limits.  So it is a lower payment for those with the following amounts of adjusted gross income:

Single – over $75,000 up to $99,000

Married filing joint – over $150,000 up to $198,000

Head of Household – over $112,500 up to $136,000

Adjusted gross income is reported on line 8(b) of your Form 1040 from 2019 (or your 2018 Form 1040 if you have not yet filed your 2019 return).

We don’t yet have guidance as to what happens if your income was too high in 2018 but will be lower in 2019 on a yet-to-be-filed return.  Technically, it’s a 2020 rebate, so we also don’t know if your income is going to be lower in 2020, perhaps you might be eligible for an adjustment on your 2020 tax return.  We don’t yet know how this will work.

I’M NOT REQUIRED TO FILE A TAX RETURN:

If you are under the filing threshold and you receive Social Security benefits, IRS will issue relief checks without you having to file a tax return (as of 4/11/20).  Checks are expected to be released late April.  This includes regular Social Security, Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), Survivor benefits and Railroad Retirement benefits.  There is no action needed on your part.

However, if you have a qualifying child dependent, there is no way for IRS to know and you would not normally receive an additional $500 for the child.  IRS plans on issuing additional guidance (as of 4/11/20) in order to get the additional $500, so continue to periodically check on IRS.gov to see what more you need to do.

If you receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income), VA benefits or other government benefits, currently IRS is not able to issue checks automatically without some action on your part.  Go to IRS.gov and register as a “non-filer” to receive a check.   Click here for link to the registration page.

I DID NOT FILE A TAX RETURN BUT SHOULD HAVE FOR 2018 AND 2019

If you haven’t filed a 2018 or 2019 return and should have, I recommend you do so as soon as possible.  Try one of the IRS partner free online efiling programs you can explore at IRS.gov/freefile.   There is not yet any guidance as to a specific “cut-off” date when IRS needs to have a return filed in order to send a check.   If you file after they issue checks, you will still be eligible for a relief payment, but it MAY come in the form of a credit against your 2020 taxes, so you might not get the benefit until you file a return for 2020.  Hopefully more guidance will come shortly.

So the long and short answer if you haven’t filed, do it quickly if you can.  If not, don’t panic, as the current guidance suggests you should still qualify for a relief payment, possibly through a credit on your 2020 tax return – which is not going to help you until early 2021 when you can file a 2020 tax return.

At this time, you cannot use the “non-filer” registration for this purpose.  You must get a tax return filed.

For those who have a 2018 or 2019 tax return on file – AND USED DIRECT DEPOSIT FOR REFUNDS IN EITHER YEAR – IRS expects has already started sending out payments.  There is no need to sign up or fill out a form to receive a payment if you requested direct deposit on either your 2018 or 2019 tax return, IRS will use that account information to send checks.

What if the bank account information changed since I filed a return?

Then the payment will likely not go through.  They recently added a “GET MY PAYMENT” tool to allow you to update account information.  Go to the GET MY PAYMENT page here. 

What if you didn’t use direct deposit because you either got a check in the mail or you owed taxes?

Go to the “GET MY PAYMENT” tool which should be generally working pretty well at this time.

What if I don’t add my bank account information?

Expect a paper check in the mail.

Currently, IRS is saying last week of April or sometime in May for paper checks to be issued.  But other times they have said it could take months.  So stay informed at IRS.gov Economic Impact Information Center.

What if my address changed since filing a tax return?

Then I recommend you register your bank account on the “GET MY PAYMENT” page when it’s ready.  That would be top recommendation.

My next recommendation if you don’t or can’t register online, is to print and send in IRS Form 8822 Change of Address AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!  Or, if you haven’t yet filed 2019, get it filed ASAP with the new address included.

Yes, payments will not be reduced for past due taxes to federal or state government.  However, back child support is not included in this exclusion.

There are still many questions that are not yet answered, but should be within the next few weeks.  For example, IRS had the current birth dates of all your children.  Is the age 16 cut-off based on the end of last year? End of 2020? Date the law was enacted?  And what if you’ve since had a child in 2020 IRS does not know about?  What about significant swings in your income?

VITA of the Lowcountry

Temporary Virtual Process

These processes are to continue to assist our clients during social distancing practices while our sites are closed.

More About Us

For more general information about VITA Lowcountry, visit the main website at http://www.vitavolunteers.org.