Maryland CASH (Creating Assets, Savings and Hope) Campaign 

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Home Tax Prep Info for Taxpayers

Info for Taxpayers


Our partners operate NO COST tax preparation programs in 18 of the 24 counties in Maryland.  Click here for a list of our sites. All sites offer savings bond service- did you know that you could buy savings bonds with your refund, straight from your tax return? Or want to do your taxes on your own? Click here for tax preparation software to create and file BOTH your federal and state tax returns at NO COST.

Frequently Asked Questions

    1. Why should I file my taxes?
    2. How do I file my taxes?
    3. What is the Earned Income Tax Credit?
    4. Do I qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit?
    5. What tax forms can a free tax preparation site prepare?
    6. What do I need when I visit a free tax preparation siteNEW Information!
    7. What should I do with my tax refund? 
    8. What should I do if I have problems with my tax return?
    9. Where can I get my taxes done for free?


1. Why should I file my taxes?

If you are entitled to federal and/or state tax refunds, filing your taxes is the only way to get them!  Most free tax preparation sites serve individuals and families earning $54,000 or less.  When you visit a free tax preparation site you can find out if you qualify for the federal and Maryland Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

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2. How do I file my taxes? Tax-Prep-Infographic

There are several options to file taxes.

  • Option 1: Use one of our FREE tax preparation sites
    • Visit one of our partner’s VITA sites. Note: Some sites have specific qualification guidelines, so check with the site before visiting.
  •  Option 2:  File your taxes online for FREE
    • If you make less than $64,000 a year you may be able to file both your federal and state taxes online for using FREE online tax software. Click here to file your federal and state taxes for FREE.
  • Option 3:  Use a Paid Tax Preparer
    • Use this option if you earn too much money to use a VITA site or have a difficult return that cannot be prepared at a VITA site. Here are some tips from the IRS when you are seeking out a paid preparer:
      • Check their qualifications.  New laws require all paid tax return prepares to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN.    Ask the preparer if they are affiliated with a professional organization and whether they attend continuing education classes.
      • Choose a preparer with history.  Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any disciplinary actions against the preparer.  Also, find out how long the preparer has been in business, the longer the better.
      • Ask about the fees before tax preparation. Some paid tax preparers are not clear about the fees and may charge additional hidden fees after the return is prepared.  It is important to ask if there are any additional costs besides the cost of tax preparation, what the cost is for each form, and what the fees are for different refund options.
      • Make sure your preparer is accessible.  Make sure you will be able to contact the preparer after the return has been filed and after the filing season is over, in case there are any questions.
      • Avoid Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs) and Refund Anticipation Checks (RACs). When you take out a RAL you are borrowing against your tax return, and may end up paying enormous interest on your own refund or if you are entitled to a smaller refund, you will have to pay the extra back to the IRS.  RACs are temporary bank accounts that are set up in your name where your tax refund will be deposited.  If you already have a bank account you do not need to do this.  There are different fees attached with each of these products. Purchasing a RAC will not get you your refund faster than a direct deposit into your bank account. A tax preparer cannot require you to purchase a RAL, RAC, or any similar financial product.
      • Make sure your tax preparer signs your tax return and includes their PTIN.  This is required by law.
      • Never sign a blank return. Avoid tax preparers that ask you to sign a blank form.
      • Review the ENTIRE return before signing.  Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions.  Make sure you understand and are comfortable with what it says.  Remember you are responsible for the accuracy of your tax return.
      • Get copies of your return for your records. Your tax preparer must give you a copy of your return.  It is a good idea to keep these forms for 7 years.
  •  For Maryland State Taxes ONLY

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3.  What is the Earned Income Tax Credit?

The federal earned income tax credit (EITC) is a tax benefit for certain people who work and have low to moderate incomes.  It reduces the amount of taxes owed, if any and may provide extra money to a refund.  The EITC can mean more money in your pocket. Click here to learn more about the federal earned income tax credit.

If you qualify for the federal earned income tax credit and claim it on your federal return, you may be entitled to a Maryland earned income tax credit on the state return equal to 50 percent of the federal tax credit. The Maryland earned income tax credit will either reduce or eliminate the amount of the state and local income tax that you owe. Part of this credit may be refundable.

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4.  Do I qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit?

Click here to use the EITC Assistant at the Internal Revenue Service’s website to find out if you are eligible.  For the 2017 tax season (tax year 2016), the eligibility levels are:

  • Earned Income and adjusted gross income (AGI) must each be less than:
    • $47,955 ($53,505 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children
    • $44,648 ($50,198 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children
    • $39,296 ($44,846 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child
    • $14,880 ($20,430 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children

Tax Year 2016 maximum credit:

    • $6,269 with three or more qualifying children
    • $5,572 with two qualifying children
    • $3,373 with one qualifying child
    • $506 with no qualifying children

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5. What tax forms can a free tax preparation site prepare?

Each free tax preparation site varies in the type of returns they are able to prepare. Sites typically prepare the following:

  • 1040 with Schedules A, B, C-EZ, EIC, and R
  • Form 1040V (Payment Voucher)
  • Form 1040 ES (Individual Estimated Tax Payment)
  • Form 2441 (Child and Dependent Care Credit)
  • Form 8863 (Education Credits)
  • Form 8812 (Additional Child Tax Credit)
  • WI Form 1, 1A, and WI-Z
  • WI Homestead Credit

Free Tax Preparation sites generally do NOT prepare the following:

  • Schedule E (Rental Income)
  • Form SS-5 (Request for a Social Security Number)
  • Form 2106 (Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses)
  • Form 3903 (Moving Expenses)
  • Form 8606 (Nondeductible IRA)
  • Form 8515 (Tax for Children Under 14 with Investment Income)

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6. What do I need to bring when I visit a free tax preparation site?

If you decide to visit a free tax preparation site, please bring:

  • Photo identification of the tax filer(s)
  • Social Security cards for everyone that will be claimed on the tax return or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) letter
  • Birth dates for every person claimed on the tax return
  • ALL  W-2 forms from ALL jobs worked in the past year
  • 1099 forms of other income
  • Health Insurance coverage information including forms 1095-A or 1095-B or 1095-C
  • Child care provider name, address, and tax ID number
  • Copy of last year’s tax return
  • Bank account information for direct deposit


  • Licencia de conducir u otra forma de identificación con foto
  • Tarjeta de Suguro Social o, Número de Identificación Personal del Contribuyente (ITIN) para cada miembro de su familia
  • Si usted no tiene el ITIN número, le ayudaremos a obtenerlo
  • Todas sus formas W-2
  • Si vas a hacer una declaración conjunta, su esposo debe estar presente
  • Debes presenter una copia de sus declaraciones del año anterior (de ser aplicable)
  • Formulario 1099 (de ser aplicable)
  • Información de la cuenta bancaria para el depósito directo

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7. What should I do with my tax refund?

Tax season is an exciting time to save! Here are some tips for using your tax refund so that it helps you and your family move towards financial security:

  • Save
    Ask your tax preparer about purchasing U.S. Savings Bonds with all or part of your refund. They make a great gift for loved ones, too! To learn more about U.S Savings Bonds, visit You could also start a rainy day fund.  You never know when something comes up and you will need some extra money. Many financial planners recommend building enough savings to cover living expenses for six months. Your tax refund can help you reach that six month savings mark.
  • Pay off debt
    Use your tax refund to pay down some of your debt. An extra large payment towards a credit card balance can go a long way. This will help you increase your credit score and reduce your interest costs.
  • Open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
    Don’t put off planning for your retirement. Open an IRA and make your tax refund your first contribution.
  • Save for your child’s education
    529 College Savings plans are investment plans with tax advantages to encourage higher education. Maryland has one of the best 529 College Savings Plans available. If you contribute at least $2,500 per year to a Maryland 529 plan then you qualify for a state tax deduction! Click here to find out more information about Maryland’s 529 College Investment Plan and 529 Prepaid College Trust.

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8. What should I do if I have problems with my tax return?

The following agencies provide Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) to support consumers facing controversial federal income tax return issues, and provide assistance with appeals, audits, and collection disputes:

Or contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service , an independent organization of the IRS that is charged with protecting taxpayers’ rights and assist with tax problems that are not easily resolved with the IRS.

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9. Where can I get my taxes done for free?

The Maryland CASH Campaign has many partners across the state that provide free tax preparation. Visit our Free Tax Prep Locations web page for detail.

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