COLORADO SPRINGS — Tax season is here and for many people it looks much different this year because of the pandemic. What's different this year is that many people lost their job and filed for unemployment benefits, perhaps they had several jobs, and others got a stimulus check while some didn't. Overall, it's making for a unique tax season.
What's remained the same though, is people wanting to save money and get a tax refund, especially for those who lose their jobs during the pandemic.
"There's maybe a little bit of a worry of if I don't get a refund or I have to owe something, that could make for a real crunch," said Jeremy Bray. "It would certainly help a lot while I'm still looking for a new job."
Bray is one of the 80,000 people in the Pikes Peak Region who were unemployed last year during the pandemic. About 14,000 people in the area were unemployed the previous year, in 2019.
Kathy Bylkas owns "Your Tax Lady" in Colorado Springs," a tax agency that's been in the community for 14 years. Bylkas says this year has been the most unique so far.
"There is the need out there. People are looking for the money because they're not working... We have to ask more questions than we generally do," said Bylkas. "Most of the people that are coming in at this time of year, are looking for their big refunds. Nowadays, they're not getting as big of refunds."
Most of the questions are about stimulus checks, unemployment benefits and earned income tax credit. Many people are hoping they still get a refund.
While tax season is just getting started, she also said business for new clients who haven't filed their taxes for several years, have gone up about 20%.
"This year, more than ever, a lot of people who have not filed in a few years, now want the stimulus check. Unfortunately they have to get caught up on all the old years first," said Bylkas. "The previous years have to be filed before your 2020 taxes, otherwise you may not get the stimulus at all."
Pikes Peak Community College is offering free tax preparation for the community. IRS-certified PPCC accounting students will prepare and file taxes for households with incomes less than $57,000. The service is offered on campus every Saturday from 8a.m. to 4p.m. through March 20. Schedule an appointment by calling 719-502-4TAX or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found here.
Just like any other year, you're encouraged to file your taxes as early as possible. It will take about 10 days to get your returns. Tax experts believe this tax season will not be extended.