Here's What Angelenos Need To Know About Taxes And Coronavirus

Felipe Castro holds a sign advertising a tax preparation office in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

It's April 15 — normally, the deadline to file your taxes. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, you now have extra time to send in your returns.

However, some Angelenos may still want to file now. Here's what you need to know about turning in your taxes during these unprecedented times.

THE DEADLINE IS EXTENDED

We know it's easy to lose track of time right now. So if you just realized it's April 15, don't panic. You don't have to do anything in order to get an extra three months to prepare your taxes.

The IRS has automatically extended the deadline to July 15 for all federal income tax filers. No forms or fees required. California has done the same for state taxes.

STIMULUS CHECKS SHOULD BE COMING SOON FOR MOST TAXPAYERS

If you're a diligent tax filer, you may actually be receiving money today.

Stimulus checks from the federal coronavirus aid package are already starting to appear in the bank accounts of Californians who've filed their taxes for 2018 or 2019, and have direct deposit set up with the IRS. Others may have to wait longer for paper checks.

These checks provide $1,200 for each qualifying adult earning up to $75,000 per year. For those who earn more, the money diminishes until phasing out completely at annual incomes of $99,000 and up. These payments are not taxable income.

If you haven't received your payment yet, you can check its status through this IRS website.


icon
DON'T MISS ANY L.A. CORONAVIRUS NEWS

Get our daily newsletters for the latest on COVID-19 and other top local headlines.


Terms of Use and Privacy Policy


SOME IMMIGRANT TAXPAYERS WILL BE LEFT OUT

However, a huge number of Angelenos who pay taxes every year will not be eligible for stimulus checks.

That's because taxpayers must have a Social Security number in order to qualify. But many undocumented immigrants pay their taxes using a different form of identification, called an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN).

Approximately 800,000 California residents file their taxes with an ITIN. Not only are undocumented immigrants shut out of the stimulus program, but so is any member of their household, regardless of immigration status.

A new study from the UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative estimates that 20% of households in L.A. County could be ineligible for stimulus checks due to undocumented or mixed immigration status.

IF YOU DON'T USUALLY FILE, MAKE SURE TO DO THIS

Taxpayers who already have their information on file with the IRS are starting to receive stimulus money.

But according to the California Legislative Analyst's Office, millions of Californians are not required to file taxes because their income is very low.

Those non-filers are at risk of losing out, including many low-income workers who may desperately need cash right now.

If this is your situation, here's what you can do:

  • If you have Internet access — and are able to navigate filing taxes online — you can still send in your 2019 tax return (even if you don't owe any money). That way you'll receive a stimulus check.
  • You can also go to this new IRS website for non-filers and enter personal payment information in order to receive stimulus money.

According to Chris Hoene, executive director of the California Budget and Policy Center, it's best to go ahead and file because you may be eligible for federal and state earned-income tax credits that can also give you a much-needed financial boost.

Reaching low-income Angelenos may be harder than usual. For now, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites — which usually offer free, in-person tax preparation services to low-income Angelenos through the United Way of Greater Los Angeles — are shut down due to health concerns.

Hoene said non-filers shouldn't be left behind.

"Spending the time to think about how we reach the people who are non-filers, and get to them more quickly, is something we should be doing more urgently in the next few months," Hoene said.

L.A. PROPERTY TAXES ARE STILL DUE

Income tax filing deadlines may have been extended — but property tax deadlines were not. Property tax bills in L.A. County came due last Friday, April 10.

However, homeowners who've seen their incomes affected by the coronavirus pandemic may still be able to get some temporary relief.

This past weekend, L.A. County's Treasurer & Tax Collector's office began accepting requests to cancel penalties for late property tax payments.

As part of their request, property owners must include "a brief statement of how the public health emergency has impacted their ability to make a timely property tax payment."


SOME STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT COVID-19

We're all living through this extraordinary and frightening pandemic. The vast majority of our newsroom has been working from home (here's some advice on that) since March 11 to bring you calm, helpful reporting. We are answering your questions and taking more.

We're here to help. And if you can help support that effort financially, we'd be grateful.