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Don’t Normally File A Tax Return? You May Be Due A Credit (A ‘Refund’) Nonetheless

By Julie Jason, originally posted on Forbes.com.

Can You Get A Tax Refund If You Don’t File A Tax Return?

If you earn below a certain dollar amount, you are not required to file a tax return. What happens if the IRS owes you a tax refund?

Who does need to file?

The IRS provides a chart with minimum gross income levels for being required to file a tax return. For example, you have to file a return if you are single, under age 65 and had a gross income of at least $12,550 in 2021 (age 65 or older: $14,250). If you are married filing jointly, with both spouses under age 65, you are required to file if you have at least $25,100 in gross income (both spouses age 65 or older: $27,800).

Who does not need to file?

If you make less than these minimums, you do not need to file a tax return. For example, say you earned $10,000 in 2021 as a 40-year-old single mother. You don’t have to file a return because you don’t owe taxes. But, you do have to file a return to get a tax refund if you were eligible for a tax credit. For example, you could be eligible for any of these credits:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Child and Dependent Care Credit
  • Premium Tax Credit
  • 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit

To find out, read the IRS Fact Sheet, which reviews these and other credits that you may have earned due to your situation. Don’t think that the credits are only for people with children. There is a childless EITC expanded credit for 2021 only that can be claimed by homeless youth, as an example.

Some of the credits might be of special interest to those parents who had a child born to them in 2021 and can claim the child as a dependent. Those in that circumstance could be eligible for a 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit of up to $1,400, and also a possible Child Tax Credit worth up to $3,600 per child born (or added through adoption or foster care) in 2021.

Again, take a few minutes to read the Fact Sheet to learn about the credits.

The only way to get a refund is to file a tax return. With the tax-filing deadline rapidly approaching (April 18 for most taxpayers), the IRS is urging low- and moderate-income families to file their federal tax return.

The Easiest Way to File a Tax Return and It’s Free

Use IRS Free File, available at IRS.gov, to prepare your tax return, file it electronically and get a refund through direct deposit. Yes, it is free. Free File “guides people through each section of their tax return using a question-and-answer format.”

You can use Free File to request an extension to Oct. 17 to file your taxes. (Keep in mind that if you owe taxes, you still must pay them by the April 18 deadline.)

Who qualifies for Free File? Any individual or family who has an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $73,000 or less. You can access Free File by using a computer or a mobile phone.

According to the IRS, you will need your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) from your most recent tax return to submit an electronically filed tax return to the IRS. If you didn’t file a return last year but used a Non-Filer tool to register for an advance Child Tax Credit or third Economic Impact Payment, enter $1 as your AGI for the prior year.

What If You Don’t Have a Bank Account for Direct Deposit?

The IRS points out that if you don’t have a bank account to accept a direct-deposit refund, you can go to the FDIC website (#GetBanked) or to the National Credit Union Administration (Credit Union Locator Tool) to find information on locating a bank or credit union to open an online account.

Veterans can use the Veterans Benefits Banking Program to look into financial services at participating banks.

If you have a reloadable prepaid card and you know the card’s account and routing numbers, that information can be provided to the IRS as well.

Need Help?

If you want to file a tax return but are not comfortable doing it by yourself, there are IRS-trained community volunteers that can offer assistance at more than 11,000 tax help sites. Visit IRS.gov/Volunteers, or call 800-906-9887.


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