AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – As many prepare to file their 2022 federal tax returns during the upcoming season, many may also be wondering about the status of their tax returns for the previous year, which tax credits are still active, and where to find places to file or get filing assistance for free.

Here are a few things to keep in mind ahead of the 2023 tax season in Texas, including status updates and important deadlines.

When can 2022 federal taxes be filed?

The starting date for when a person can file their taxes depends on when they receive the forms needed to complete the process, such as W-2 forms from their workplace, and when the Internal Revenue Service is ready to process them. This usually happens by the last week of January.

No matter when the official starting day in January is, the tax season is expected to end on Tuesday, April 18.

What happened with the 2021 Tax Refunds?

According to an update from the IRS, as of Dec. 16, 2022, the agency had 2.17 million unprocessed individual tax returns, including 2021 returns and late-filed prior-year returns. Of those, 1.5 million required correction or other special handling, and 670,000 were paper returns waiting to be reviewed and processed.

The IRS website noted that those who file their taxes on paper may wait six months or more for their returns to be processed, although most refunds are issued in less than 21 calendar days. This is due to ongoing service delays with the IRS that have impacted live phone support, paper tax return processing, answering mail from taxpayers, and reviewing tax returns.

For those still waiting on their previous tax refund, the IRS advised that it will contact taxpayers from whom it needs more information. Otherwise, taxpayers can check their refund status using their IRS account or the “Where’s My Refund?” page on the IRS website.

What’s new about filing taxes in 2023?

According to the IRS, a few changes that could impact filing 2022 taxes include:

  • More taxpayers may receive a Form 1099-K, after the reporting threshold was lowered for third-party settlement organizations, including payment apps;
  • There were no new stimulus payments in 2022 so taxpayers should not expect to get an additional payment in their 2023 refund;
  • Some tax credits have returned to 2019 levels, meaning smaller refunds compared to 2022;
  • No above-the-line charitable deductions will be available, meaning that taxpayers who don’t itemize and who take the standard won’t be able to deduct their charitable contributions;
  • More people may be eligible for the Premium Tax Credit due to temporary eligibility expansions; and
  • Eligibility rules changed to claim a tax credit for clean vehicles under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

Regarding changes to tax credits, the IRS said that amounts for the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child and Dependent Care Credit will return to pre-COVID levels. This means:

  • Those who got $3,600 per dependent in 2021 for the CTC will, if eligible, get $2,000 for the 2022 tax year;
  • For the EITC, eligible taxpayers with no children who received roughly $1,500 in 2021 will now get $500 for the 2022 tax year; and
  • The Child and Dependent Care Credit returns to a maximum of $2,100 in 2022 instead of $8,000 in 2021.

Where to find tax assistance and preparation help in Amarillo

Nearly everyone, according to the IRS, will be able to file their taxes for free electronically on the website or with the IRS2Go app via the service’s Free File program. However, members of the armed forces and some veterans may be able to file for free using MilTax.

For those seeking assistance with their taxes, the IRS noted that the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free basic tax return preparation for those qualified.

The United Ways across Texas support the VITA programs and host sites and events dedicated to supplying communities with free tax assistance. The organization has also directed taxpayers to the My Free Taxes website as a resource for finding free tax assistance.

Further, the AARP Foundation Tax Aide Program is run by the AARP and the IRS to assist seniors and income-qualifying taxpayers with their tax preparation. According to the group’s published information, the Amarillo District prepares returns at the Amarillo Senior Center, the North Branch of the Amarillo Public Library, Tulia, Hereford, and Borger during the tax season. 

Aside from those options, the IRS offered resources on its website to help guide taxpayers in finding and choosing tax professionals to assist that are best suited for their needs. The Interactive Tax Assistant may also be helpful by providing answers to a broad range of tax questions and assisting taxpayers in finding out if they are eligible for new tax credits.

Altogether, while the tax deadline is still a few months away, the IRS and other experts encourage taxpayers to prepare and file early, as well as utilize available resources, to complete the process and receive refunds as quickly as possible.