Make Taxes Less Stressful

We’re in the last legs of tax season. The filing deadline for your 2021 return (Tax Day) is Monday, April 18, 2022. If you haven’t already filed, now is the time! Tax filing can be intimidating, but both the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have lots of resources to make it easier. Did you know you file many tax returns for FREE? Or that qualifying taxpayers and the elderly can get FREE tax return help, including basic return preparation?

Free File

There are now Free File options available for both federal taxes and California state taxes. There are some restrictions on who can use the free filing programs, like income limits or the complexity of your return, but we recommend checking first to see if you’re eligible for this option. For more information about Free File, visit for California and for federal.

Free Tax Help

The IRS has a program where qualified taxpayers can get help from volunteers in preparing basic returns for FREE. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is available to people who make $58,000 or less, those with disabilities, and limited English-speakers. Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) is available for those 60 years and older and specializes in issues unique to seniors, like questions about pensions and retirement issues. All volunteers must have demonstrated knowledge of tax law and are a reliable and trustworthy resource.

To find a VITA site near you, use the online location tool or call 800-906-9887.

Most TCE sites are operated by the AARP Foundation Tax Aide program. To find a TCE location, use the AARP TCE online location tool or call 888-227-7669.

Other Tips

You will need to include information about any Economic Impact Payments (stimulus payments) on your 2021 return. The IRS is mailing special letters with this information, or you find it in your online account. If you were eligible to receive Economic Impact Payments, but are still waiting on some of your payout, you may need to file a return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, even if you do not normally file taxes. The deadline to file or request an extension is Monday, April 18, 2022.

For additional information and tax filing resources, visit the Franchise Tax Board for California taxes and the IRS for federal taxes.

Avoid Tax Scams

Scammers love to use current events to try and trick people out of money. Since tax season is starting, you can expect that IRS scams will also be reappearing. There are several common tactics that IRS scammers use, but the IRS does NOT do. Knowing these red flags can help keep your money and personal information safe.

The IRS does NOT:

•    Initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message, or social media to request personal or financial information. Always be wary of someone requesting sensitive information through these channels.

•    Call to demand immediate payment with a specific method. We’ve mentioned before that scammers like to have you send money with gift cards and wire transfers. Anyone insisting on these forms of payment should automatically raise a red flag.

•    Demand you pay taxes without option to question or appeal the amount. Scammers frequently use pressure tactics, like insisting you pay immediately and without question.

•    Threaten to bring in local police, immigration, or other law enforcement to arrest you for non-payment. This is a scare tactic scammers use in hopes that you don’t question their claims and pay up quick.

•    Revoke driver’s licenses, business licenses, or immigration status. This is another scare tactic used to stress and trick you into paying before you have time to think critically.

What the IRS DOES do:

•   Mail the first bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.

•   Instructs payments be made to the “United States Treasury”.

•   Provide two forms of official credentials for in-person visits.

•   Notify you by mail if your tax debt has been sent to a private collection agency.
The collection agency will also send you a contact letter with information on how to resolve the debt.

•   Notify you by mail before attempting to make contact over the phone regarding an audit.

For more information about tax scams, visit the IRS website.

Low Income Earners May Qualify for Extra Money on Your Tax Return.

The Earned Income Tax Credit is a tax break for low- to moderate-income families. In California, if you worked in 2020 and made under $30,000, you may be eligible for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC). If you qualify for the CalEITC and have children under the age of 6, you may also be eligible for the Young Child Tax Credit, which would give you more money on your return.

To qualify, you must:
– Have taxable earned income
– Have a valid social security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) for you, your spouse, and any qualifying children
– Not use “married/RDP filing separate” if married
– Live in California for more than half the year

For full details about qualification requirements, the amounts you may be eligible for, and details on how to file, visit

With Tax Season Upon Us we need to Be Informed. Who has to File?

It comes down to more than just earned income when determining if you need to file taxes. Other circumstances include: age, if your income was earned from social security, if anyone can claim you as a dependent and your filing status.

In some cases even if your income is under the required amount it is in your best interest to still file. If, for example, you had a part time job for a portion of the year and you had federal taxes withheld, you could be eligible for a refund. If you don’t file then you will never see this money.

For more information about filing your taxes visit