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Get (Free) Help With Your Taxes!

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Don't pay to have your taxes prepared!  

You can get free help if you are low income (less than 54,000/year for in person help or less than $66,000/year for online help).  

People need help filing their taxes for many reasons. Whatever the reason, there are some great resources.  Scroll down for a complete list of help in Washtenaw County. For anywhere else in the country, go to myfreetaxes.com and look for assistance from a local United Way—or do-it-yourself online!

What About the Health Insurance Requirement?

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The Affordable Care Act required that most people have health care in 2018 or pay a penalty (shared responsibility payment) unless you qualify for an exemption.  If you had health care through the Marketplace (healthcare.gov) make sure you bring your 1095-A with you when you go to file your taxes.  Your 1095-A is available in the Messages section of your Marketplace (healthcare.gov) account.  You can also call the Marketplace (1-800-318-2596) and they can give the account holder the information over the phone.

For 2019, there is still a mandate requiring people to have health insurance but there is no longer a penalty. When filing taxes in 2020 for the 2019 year, there would be no penalty for not having health insurance.

EXEMPTIONS from the Shared Responsibility Payment

If you are an undocumented immigrant filing taxes using an ITIN number, or if your income is very low, or if your employer insurance was too expensive, you may not have to pay a penalty.  If you are not sure you qualify for an exemption, use the Health Coverage Exemptions tool.  The Exemptions Tool uses your answers to find exemptions that may work for you. It helps you see if you may qualify and tells you how to apply.  If you do qualify, talk to your tax preparer about receiving an exemption.  No tax preparer should ever collect money from you for not having health insurance, only the IRS can collect the shared responsibility payment.  [You can also read about the exemptions on the IRS web site.]

What Information Do You Need To File Taxes?

Here is a list of documents to bring with you to any tax preparation appointment or gather before you start your tax return online.  Make sure to contact your preparer about any specific requirements for receiving help.

  • Social Security or ITIN numbers for all family members, photo ID

  • W-2 forms for all jobs worked in the previous year

  • Proof of rent or mortgage and property tax payments

  • Childcare provider's name, address and federal tax ID number

  • Blank, voided check or deposit slip to set up direct deposit of refund

  • 1099 forms for other income, including unemployment, retirement, contract work

  • Social Security Letter(s) or W-2s

  • 1095-A, if you had health care from the Marketplace (healthcare.gov)

  • Copy of your last year's return (if available)

  • A heating bill from November 2015 - February 2016 or access to your energy bill online

  • Any other tax-related letters or documents

WHERE Can You go for Free Help? 

VITA - UNITED WAY OF WASHTENAW COUNTY

FREE income tax preparation assistance from the United Way of Washtenaw County for residents making up to $54,000 in 2018.

To schedule an appointment call 734-677-7235 or schedule online here.   Multiple locations can be scheduled online including the agencies below.

  • United Way, 2305 Platt Rd. Ann Arbor, 48104. 734-677-7235

  • Manchester Community Resource Center 710 East Main St., Manchester, 48158. 734-428-7722

  • Michigan Works! 304 Harriet St., Ypsilanti, 48197.

  • EMU College of Business 300 W. Michigan Ave. Ypsilanti, 48197.

Many other areas in Michigan have VITA or other tax assistance--use this link to find help in your area.

MYFREETAXES.COM

Do you use a computer?  Do you have access to the computer?  Does your family make $66,000 or less? Myfreetaxes.com is a free online service for tax preparation and filing from United Way and H&R Block.  

Myfreetaxes.com provides email, live chat and telephone support in English and Spanish. 80% of people who filed using this service finished in less than one hour.  If you do not have a computer or would prefer in-person help, computers are available during open VITA clinic hours at the United Way. Computers and volunteer assistance available on a first come, first served basis.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide

AARP serves adults (55+) with low incomes. Call to make an appointment or inquire about walk-in times.

  • Housing Bureau for Seniors @ the Turner Center 2401 Plymouth Rd., Ann Arbor, 48105. Call 734-998-9341.

  • Milan Senior Center 45 Neckel Ct., Milan, 48160. Call 734-508-6229.

  • Saline Area Senior Center 7190 N. Maple Rd., Saline, 48176. Call 734-429-9274.

  • Ypsilanti District Library 229 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti, 48197. Call 734-482-4110 Ext. 1385.

  • Chelsea Senior Center 512 E. Washington St., Chelsea, 48118. Call 734-475-9242 for Jennifer Smith.

Ann Arbor Senior Center

Ann Arbor Senior Center serves adults (55+) with low incomes. 1320 Baldwin Ave., Ann Arbor, 48104. Call 734-998-9341.

St. Francis

Adults and families with low incomes who have non-complex returns to file. 2150 Frieze Ave., Ann Arbor, 48104. Call 734-769-2550 and ask for Scott Wright.

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Mammograms Are Free! (& Not Just During Breast Cancer Awareness Month)

So, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

You might have heard that the American Cancer Society has just changed its guidelines for breast cancer screening, but at some point, most women will want to get a screening mammogram.

What most of those articles about mammograms don't tell you is this--under the Affordable Care Act, most preventive care services--including screening mammograms, screening colonoscopies, and vaccines--are FREE, whether you have private insurance or Medicaid. That's right--zero copay, even if you haven't met your plan's deductible. Most plans have to deliver a set of preventive services so long as they are delivered in your plan's network.

For all adults: This includes immunizations (including flu shots!) and assistance in stopping smoking, too!  (Click here for a full list of free services.)

For women: All of the benefits for "all adults" are included, and in addition, this includes breastfeeding support and contraceptive coverage, as well as mammograms and pap smears!  (Click here for a full list of free services.)

For children: This includes vaccines and hearing, vision, and developmental screenings.  (Click here for a full list of free services.)

NOTE: While screening mammograms are considered a preventive service, a diagnostic mammogram is not. So--say you find a lump in your breast--that would require diagnostic services, subject to your regular copays and deductibles.

Need more information? 

A good place to start is with the customer service number on your insurance card.

--R. Kraut

 

 

 

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I Need a Ride to the Doctor - Your Medicaid Transportation Benefit

Free rides to the doctor? Okay!

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