Find Utah tax help at Midvale City HallMar 09, 2020 11:39AM ● By Erin Dixon
Carlos Higueros checks in at Midvale City Hall to have his taxes prepared by volunteers. (Sarah Taggart/City Journals)
If you don’t think you need to file a tax return because you don’t make enough, you could be missing out on tax credits that give you a refund, and yes, even if you didn’t have the government withhold anything from your paycheck.
Greg McDonald is the state director for Utah Tax Help. He organizes volunteer-run sites where anyone can come to get their taxes filed for free. Some other tax programs will advertise free services, but often will charge once it comes to state filing.
Utah Tax Help runs the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program. On average, they complete 28,000 returns every year.
McDonald wants to double that number.
“Forever, Utah has been at 75% participation. Last year, we were at 171,000 people, which means there’s 57,000 that didn’t get it,” McDonald said.
Why are there so many missing out on tax returns?
“The IRS tells us we don’t have to. ‘Isn’t that great? My life is full of stress about money, I don’t have to wait in line to pay somebody to do my taxes,’” McDonald said.
The IRS filing threshold for a single earner is $12,200. If you are single and head of household the threshold is $18,350. If you’re married filing joint, it’s $24,400. Likely, the households with these numbers are going to miss out on a tax return because the IRS doesn’t require them to file.
Utah Tax Help is open to anyone who earns less than $56,000. This includes retired individuals that are taking care of children. Retired individuals with no children are taken care of by other organizations.
If you already file electronically, you are likely getting the tax credit. But if you file by paper and aren’t aware of the Earned Income Tax Credit or child credits, you may be missing out.
“Our clients average $21K in income. The sweet spot for getting a tax credit is $10-$20K. We’ve seen refunds of $10K because of the earned income tax credit,” McDonald said. However, most of the refunds are in the $2,000 to $3,000 range.
Utah Tax Help can also go back and file or refile up to three years’ worth of refunds.
“A couple came in, stay-at-home mom who became a cafeteria worker. Her husband was a janitor. Low-income family. I said here’s your refund, I look over and the mom is crying. I said we can go back and get you three more years,” McDonald said.
Carlos Higueros has been coming to tax assistance sites since he was 18 and a student at Weber State University.
“The first time I filed taxes, it seemed like something I didn’t want to do,” Higueros said. “I saw a poster about a place you could file taxes for free.”
Higueros went on to graduate with a degree in health promotion and now works for SelectHealth. He made an appointment at the Midvale City Hall site in February and had his taxes filed within 20 minutes. Higueros lives in Taylorsville, and Midvale is an easy location for him to stop by after work. He appreciates the convenience and also the peace of mind.
“Honestly, it’s nice to be able to ask questions,” Higueros said. “I’ve filed taxes online before and… That’s my biggest concern, hitting submit and getting an IRS notice in return.”
For Utah residents who do receive a letter from the IRS, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance also takes appointments during a summer tax help session.
“If you get a letter from the IRS, bring it in,” McDonald said.
“I recommend this to a lot of people I know,” Higueros said. “It’s a nice service that’s available to the public.”
Utah Tax Help is available by appointment or walk-in (first come, first served basis) at Midvale City Hall, 7505 Holden Street. The hours are 6 to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays from now until tax day, April 15. The dates are as follows: March 2, 4, 9, 11, 16, 18, 23, 25, 30; April 1, 6, 8, 13.
Appointments can be made by calling 211 or by going to www.UtahTaxHelp.org