Beginning in early February, the Brazos Valley’s free income tax preparation service, AARP Tax-Aide, will help those in need to file their 2021 tax return.
Opening Dates and Locations
Feb. 1 in Bryan at the Clara B. Mounce Library, 201 E. 26th St.
Feb. 2 in College Station at the Larry J. Ringer Library, 1818 Harvey Mitchell Pkwy. S.
Feb. 17 in Brenham at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 701 Church St.
What to Expect
Two appointments will be required to receive service: the first to bring your tax documents in person to the site and the second one week later to review and approve your completed tax return for e-filing.
Before your first appointment, you must pick up a Tax-Aide packet with instructions and forms to complete in advance. Packets will be available at each Tax-Aide location, beginning January 26, 2022.
The packets also tell how to schedule your Tax-Aide appointments. In addition, the scheduling phone numbers will be posted on the Brazos Valley Tax-Aide website (https://bcstaxaide.com/), beginning January 26, 2022.
You are encouraged to wear a mask during your Tax-Aide appointments. All Tax-Aide volunteers in contact with you will be masked and vaccinated against COVID-19.
Things to Do Now
● Update mailing and email addresses and report name changes.
Be sure that your employers, banks, and other payers have your latest mailing address and email address so you will receive tax-related documents on time.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will not contact you by phone or email. So, if the IRS has a refund or news for you, they need your current home mailing address. Use Form 8822 to notify the IRS of an address change. You can download it from http://www.IRS.gov. Also be sure to notify the Social Security Administration of any legal name changes; go to a local office or call (866)568-9428.
● Collect tax-related documents.
Save all the following documents. Most of these forms will arrive in January:
— Forms W-2 from employers.
— Forms 1099 for other income, such as interest, retirement, and non-employee compensation.
— Also, if you had health insurance through the Marketplace, you will receive Form 1095-A, which the tax preparer needs to reconcile the advance premium tax credits.
This year, you may have received one of the following IRS letters. If you received either item below, you’ll need to bring it too:
— Letter 6475, which confirms your 2021 Economic Impact Payment (the third one) and is needed to claim the recovery rebate credit. You will receive the credit if you did not receive the amount for which you were eligible.
— Letter 6419, which reports the Total Advance Child Tax Credit Payments you began receiving in July 2021 if you have eligible children. This letter is needed to report advance child tax credit payments for your tax return.
Also bring a copy of your 2020 return if you can; it will be a useful reference for preparing your 2021 return.
● Set up a bank account for direct deposit.
Direct deposit provides a reliable, fast, and secure way to receive your income tax refund. With direct deposit, the IRS will electronically deposit your refund into your bank or credit union account, and it’s free. Because of the IRS workload over the past two years, direct deposit has given taxpayers access to their refund several weeks sooner than a paper check. Consider opening an account at your local bank or credit union.
● Confirm identity protection PIN, if applicable.
If you experienced tax-related identity theft and requested an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) from the IRS, you will receive a CP01A Notice with a new six-digit IP PIN each year in December or January. Your tax return cannot be filed with last year’s number; you must provide your new PIN.
● Make charitable contributions before year-end
Even if you do not itemize deductions, the law now permits you to claim a limited deduction on your 2021 federal income tax return for cash contributions to certain charitable organizations. Single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately returns can each claim a deduction of up to $300 for qualifying contributions. The maximum deduction is $600 for married individuals filing jointly.
Taxpayers age 70½ or older can receive a tax benefit by making “Qualified charitable distributions.” If you have an IRA, the IRA trustee can direct a distribution for you to a qualified charitable organization. This nontaxable distribution will count toward your minimum distribution requirement for the year. See Publication 590B, Distributions from Individual Retirement Arrangements for more information.
● Renew Your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, if applicable.
This information pertains only to taxpayers who file their federal income tax return using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a social security number.
If you did not use your ITIN at least once for your 2018, 2019, or 2020 tax return, then your ITIN will expire on December 31, 2021.
Note: ITINs with middle digits 70 through 88 are already expired. ITINs with middle digits 90 through 99, if assigned before 2013, are also expired.
It is important to renew an ITIN as soon as possible. The IRS says renewals take 7 to 11 weeks to process. Apply now to avoid a delay in your ability to file your income tax return and receive any credits due to you for the 2021 tax year.
To renew an expiring ITIN, submit a completed IRS Form W-7, along with required identification documents. You can download IRS Form W-7 and instructions from https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/individuals/how-do-i-renew-my-itin.
If you are reluctant to send original documents to the IRS, you might use an IRS-authorized Certifying Acceptance Agent. A list of agents in our area is available at https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/acceptance-agent-program. Such an agent can authenticate your original identification documents, so they don’t have to be sent to the IRS.
ITIN holders who become eligible for a social security number should not renew their ITIN. Instead, they should apply for a social security number at a local Social Security office or call (866) 568-9428.
Taxpayers may also consider preparing their own tax returns using the free tax preparation services offered by the IRS at www.irs.gov/freefile. This website offers access to several tax preparation and filing software companies who provide their brand-name products for free if the taxpayer qualifies.
This website is currently closed, but you can review the qualifications and instructions. According to the IRS, “Check back January 2022 to prepare and file your Federal taxes for free.” In the meantime, you can assemble what you need to get started. See the list on the website.
What Can AARP Tax-Aide Do?
Here is some additional information about AARP Tax-Aide and the tax preparation process that may be of interest and helpful:
- AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Privacy Information
- Your Civil Rights
- Free Tax Preparation
- Taxpayers Information Rights and Responsibilities
- How Your Return Will Be Prepared
- Save Your Tax Refund
To access these documents, go here.
In the process of preparing your tax return, Tax-Aide volunteers will need to contact you to get more information and later to go over your preliminary return. The attached document explains how to respond when you receive a meeting request by email or phone call.