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LAW Home > Legal Topics > Taxes > Earlier Years Tax Questions and Answers

Understanding Your 2022 Taxes


Please note: This is an archived article. It does not apply to current-year tax preparation. Please see our current article to read up-to-date tax information.

Federal tax season officially began on January 23, 2023. This article will help you understand some tax filing changes for tax year 2022, provide general filing information, and answer common taxpayer questions.

How can I get my taxes done for free?

The average cost to prepare a simple tax return in New Jersey is $175. If your income is below $60,000 (some sites may go higher), you likely qualify for free tax preparation assistance. Further details discussed below. More information is also available at Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers (from

IRS Free File Program. This program makes commercial tax preparation software available to low-income taxpayers at no cost. If you had less than $73,000 in adjusted gross income (AGI) in 2022, these programs will help you complete and file your tax return at no cost. Go to Free File (from You will need to select the tax software that best suits your needs. Once you choose a preparer, you will leave the IRS website and be taken to the commercial preparer’s site. Based on your answers to income and family questions, a tax return will be prepared on your behalf and filed electronically. Note, this may not be an option for filing your state tax return, so you may want to consider one of the other in-person tax preparation options listed below.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). The VITA program generally offers free tax preparation services to people with incomes below $60,000. In addition, the TCE program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those age 60 and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors. VITA and TCE sites are staffed with volunteers trained to prepare both federal and state returns and are located at libraries, senior centers, and other community centers. Due to COVID, some VITA and TCE have in-person and virtual options. It differs by facility. For the latest status on services near you, call 1-800-906-9887, or visit Get Free Tax Prep Help (from

These centers are opening in New Jersey at the end of January. You should contact sites as soon as possible to find out how to make an appointment. As the April 18, 2023 deadline approaches, these sites become busier and you might not be able to secure an appointment.

What should I bring to my VITA or TCE appointment?

Being fully prepared for your appointment is important, especially if you want to avoid delays in receiving a refund. Save time by being prepared for your appointment with VITA or TCE. You should start collecting your records now, including but not limited to: photo ID, Social Security cards (including for your dependents), wage and earning statements from all employers (Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc), a copy of last year’s return, healthcare coverage forms (1095-A, B and C). For a comprehensive list or more information,visit What to Bring to Your Local VITA or TCE Site (from

What if I don’t qualify for free tax assistance?

If you do not qualify for free tax assistance and do not feel comfortable filing your own return, you may pay someone to prepare your tax return. Choose wisely. You are legally responsible for what is on your return, even if it wasn’t prepared by you. While there are many honest and professional tax preparers, there are some who are not well-trained or may be fraudulent. Choose a preparer carefully and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Here are some tips: (1) Use a preparer who signs the return and includes their preparer tax identification number. (2) Ask about their educational background and professional affiliations. Confirm they are licensed and check for any disciplinary actions with the state board of accountancy for certified public accountants. (3) Avoid preparers whose fees are based upon a percentage of your refund. (4) Make sure any refund due is deposited in full into your bank account or mailed to you as a check. (5) Never sign a blank return. Always review the information carefully before signing. (6) Keep a copy of the return for your records.

How do I avoid delays to my refund?

The IRS issues most refunds within 21 days of receiving a tax return electronically. However, the IRS has been experiencing delays in processing returns, particularly those filed by mail. To maximize your chance of getting your refund quickly:

  • File electronically instead of filing a paper return.
  • Use the IRS Free File program.
  • Check your numbers carefully. This includes the banking account numbers if you chose direct deposit.
  • Opt to receive your refund through direct deposit. This is usually quicker than waiting for a paper check.

Should I consider a refund anticipation loan?

No. This time of year, tax preparation businesses advertise tempting offers to “get your refund early.” These are not instant refunds issued by the IRS. They are loans, secured by your tax refund, and the lender will likely add high fees and interest rates. The fees and interest are deducted from your refund, and you won’t get the full amount of the refund to which you are entitled. It is better to be patient and wait for your full refund. In most cases, if you file your return electronically and choose direct deposit, you should get your return within two to three weeks.

Do I have to file a return?

Whether you are required to file a tax return and what amount of taxable income you can earn are questions that depend on your age, filing status, and gross income. The amount of taxable income you can earn before you are required to file a tax return is called a filing threshold. Use the table below to see if you are required to file a federal tax return. You can also see Do I Need to File a Tax Return? (from to check whether you have a filing requirement.

2022 Filing Requirements Chart For Most Taxpayers

IF your filing status is. . .

AND at the end of 2022 
you were. . .

THEN file a return if your gross income was at least. . .


under 65


65 or older


Married filing jointly

under 65 (both spouses)


65 or older (one spouse)


65 or older (both spouses)


Married filing separately
(see the instructions for Form 1040)

any age


Head of household
(see the instructions for Form 1040)

under 65


65 or older


Qualifying widow(er)
(see the instructions for Form 1040)

under 65


65 or older


Note: If you were born before January 1, 1958, you are considered to be age 65 at the end of 2022.

What does filing status mean?

“Filing status” is a term used by the IRS to determine your tax filing obligations, standard deductions, and eligibility for certain credits and deductions. It is based mainly upon marital status and family situation. There are five types of filing status: Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household (HOH), and Qualifying Widow(er). Your marital status on the last day of the year determines your filing status for the entire year. Choose single filing status if you are divorced or legally separated according to state law. Head of household generally applies to taxpayers who are unmarried. To qualify for HOH status, you must have paid more than half the cost of maintaining your household for yourself and a qualifying person. For more information about filing status, see IRS Publication 501: “Exemptions, Standard Deductions and Filing Information.”

Do not earn enough to have to file?

Even if you do not make enough money to have to file a tax return, you should consider filing one. If you are working, but your income is low, you are probably eligible for a refund of taxes withheld from your paycheck during the year. There are also other tax credits for which you might be eligible. For example, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a valuable credit you may qualify for if you have low income and are working, or have “earned” credit. A tax refund means that the IRS will be returning money to you. If you don’t file a return, you won’t get money back that you are entitled to.

What if I am unable to file my tax return on time?

If you are unable to file by the deadline (April 18, 2023), you may file for a six-month extension by completing IRS Form 4868 (from Extension requests are automatically granted, giving you until October 16, 2023 to file. Note that this is only an extension of the time to file, and will not extend your time to make a payment if you owe the IRS at the end of the year. This means if you are self-employed and make estimated tax payments on a quarterly basis, you should still estimate your tax liability for 2022, and pay any amount due. Failure to do so may result in a penalty. If you do not have the money to pay what you owe, file the extension request to avoid a late-filing penalty and possible interest on late-payment penalties.

How do I check the status of my tax refund?

You can instantly check the status of your refund at Refunds (from Just input your Social Security number, filing status (explained below), and exact refund amount as stated on your filed return. Filing electronically will yield a faster refund.

What Is The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?

The EITC is one of the most valuable credits because it is fully refundable. This means that you will still get money back, even if you did not owe any tax. See the table below. The amount of the EITC depends upon income and family size. You must meet the following requirements in order to claim the EITC. You must:

  • Have worked and earned income under $59,187.
  • Have a valid Social Security number by the due date of your 2022 return (including extensions).
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien all year.

See below for a summary of the guidelines and maximum credits available under the EITC. You may see Earned Income and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Tables (from for more information. You can also check your eligibility online by going to EITC Assistant (from

EITC Limits for Tax Year 2022

Children or Relatives Claimed 
Maximum AGI*
Single/Head of Household, or Widowed
Maximum AGI*
Married Filing Jointly




No qualifying children




One qualifying child




Two qualifying children




Three or more qualifying children




*Adjusted Gross Income

Tax Law Changes for 2022

In 2020 and 2021, there were many laws and changes to tax code that sought to benefit US taxpayers in light of COVID. Examples include Economic Stimulus Payments and expansion of the Child Tax Credit. Some of these programs have expired, which may result in a smaller refund for some taxpayers in 2022. Here are some of the other important changes for tax year 2022:

  1. The Child Tax Credit (“CTC”) has been reduced for 2022. The CTC increased in the 2021 amount occurred pursuant to the American Rescue Plan, which was not extended to 2022. In 2021, the Child Tax Credit was $3,600 per child under age 6 and up to $3000 per child aged 16 and 17. In 2022, the tax break returns to the 2020 figure of up to $2,000 per child under age 17.

  2. The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit has been reduced. This is a tax credit that helps pay for the care of eligible children and other qualifying persons. This means things such as day care or after school care costs. It is based upon your income and a percentage of expenses that you incur for the care of children or other qualifying persons to enable you to go to work and/or school or to look for work. In 2021, the credit increased to $8,000 for one qualifying person or $16,000 for two or more qualifying people. For 2022, the amount returned to the original amount of $3,000 for one qualifying person and $6,000 for two or more qualifying people.

  3. Changes to Reporting Requirements for Payments Received by Third Parties: If you got money in 2022 from apps like Cashapp, Venmo, Paypal, Etsy or Poshmark, you may receive a Form 1099-K. This is the form that reports income to the IRS from third parties. It may be considered “income”. It applies to business transactions such as part-time jobs, or selling goods from home. Before 2022, these third parties were supposed to report to the IRS if the taxpayer had more than 200 transactions totaling 20,000 in value. For 2022, the threshold is only $600 and only one transaction. You should not receive a 1099-K for personal transfers, however. Taxpayers should be aware of this provision and be prepared to show what costs you incurred to earn this “income” on your tax return.

  4. The income tax brackets for 2022 are slightly wider than for 2021 as a result of increased inflation. See IRS provides tax inflation adjustments for tax year 2022 (from for the new figures.

  5. In 2022, the IRS increased the standard deduction amounts. This is good news for taxpayers. A standard deduction is the number of tax deductions you can subtract from your income before you begin to owe taxes. The standard deduction amounts for tax year 2022 are shown below.

Standard Deduction Amounts for
2022 Tax Year



Single or Married
Filing Separately


Married Filing Jointly or
Qualifying Widower


Head of Household



If you need further assistance or have questions, you can reach the LSNJ Tax Legal Assistance Project through the LSNJLAWSM Hotline. Apply online at or call 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529).