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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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Trump case expected to head to the jury today; IN food banks concerned about draft Farm Bill; NH parents, educators urge veto of anti-LGBTQ+ bills; Study shows a precipitous drop in migratory fish populations, in US and worldwide.

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Actor Robert DeNiro joins Capitol Police officers to protest against Donald Trump at his New York hush money trial as both sides make closing arguments. And the Democratic Party moves to make sure President Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

IRS promotes new program to file your taxes for free

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Monday, April 1, 2024   

This year Californians can file simple tax forms for free and save time to boot, thanks to a new pilot project from the Internal Revenue Service called IRS Direct File.

Californians spend an average of 9 hours and $150 a year to file their taxes.

Adam Ruben, vice president of campaigns and political strategy for the nonprofit advocacy organization the Economic Security Project, said now they can just go to Directfile.IRS.gov.

"It's an interview-based questionnaire," Ruben explained. "It's something that people can use on their phones on their computers available in English and Spanish that asks people questions and pretty much plain language, and you fill in the answers. And it fills in the tax form for you."

The program then funnels users into the CalFile site to do their own state taxes. IRS Direct File is being piloted in 12 states but if it were to expand nationwide and be available to all taxpayers, Ruben estimated within five years it would save Americans $8 billion in tax preparation fees and another $3 billion worth of time annually.

Teri Olle, director of Economic Security California, said the software is especially helpful to the millions of Californians who make too little money to be required to file taxes because it connects them to things like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

"Those folks who don't file are often disproportionately Black, Latino, Indigenous, headed by single parents," Olle outlined. "Those are the households that often stand to benefit thousands of dollars in tax credits."

Private tax preparation companies like TurboTax and H&R Block fought the idea for years but the Biden Administration pressed on, using funds from the Inflation Reduction Act. Advocates are hoping in future years the program will be able to pre-fill the return with financial data from W2 forms.


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