Many Oregon taxpayers unaware of kicker, experts say

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Just thinking about filing your taxes probably gives you a headache.

This year it's a little more complicated, thanks to the Oregon kicker and new health insurance forms.

Tuesday was a busy day at CASH Oregon. It’s a nonprofit that provides free tax advice and tax preparation.

Marisa Danley, who is a tax preparer, said some of the new changes this year are causing confusion.

“We found that most people aren't aware of the kicker,” said Danley.

“I pretty much had forgotten about the kicker. I'm looking forward to it if there is one,” said Bruce Richardson, who was filing his taxes with his wife, Becky Schumacher, at CASH Oregon.

Oregon's kicker is triggered when tax collections exceed expectations by at least two percent. The extra money is given back to Oregonians.

So how much will you get back? To find out, go to the Oregon Department of Revenue's website, click on the link that says ‘What’s my kicker’ and enter in your information.

The problem? To get the kicker, you have to know your tax liability from the last time you filed. It can be a pain to dig up especially if you're filing by yourself. Gilbert Gleason over at H&R Block said you need to have your 2014 tax return.

“Line 31 tells you what your tax liability was. So it's not how much you got back, it's not how much you owed. It’s how much Oregon kept of your taxes,” said Gleason.

If you don't know where your 2014 tax return is, you can always call the Oregon Department of Revenue.

If you’re unable to find your tax liability, don't worry. Gleason said if you get that number wrong, there is a fail safe. He said in his experience so far, the Department of Revenue will put in the right number.

Another point of confusion this year is the 1095 healthcare form. 

“Most people do walk in and they say what the heck is this,” said Danley.

If you have the 1095-A, it means you got health insurance through the online marketplace and you'll need the form to file your taxes. But if you get the 1095 B or C in the mail, don't worry.

“The B and C are just for your records,” said Danley.

She said another thing to think about, a lot of low income folks who don't have to file and make up to about $50,000 or less should probably think about filing anyway. She said they may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit and could get money back.

“It could be up to about $6,000 depending on your filing status and how many children you have,” Danley explained.

Gleason also said right now taxpayers need to be aware of fraud and scams. File early so there’s less of a chance that someone could steal your identity and file under your name. He said his clients have also been telling him that they’ve received threatening phone calls from people claiming to be with the U.S. Treasury or IRS. He said those government organizations would never call, ask for money and make threats. Gleason said the best thing to do if you get a call like that, is to hang up.

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