EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The IRS announced Monday is the official start to the nation’s 2023 tax season. With Monday being the first day that the IRS will begin accepting and reviewing 2022 tax returns, there are many questions to be answered.

There are a few changes to be aware of this year and, for those who may not be able to afford professional income tax services, there are some local options that are free of charge.

January 23rd, is the official beginning of the 2023 tax filing season.

“The first day that they are going to open and start accepting returns,” said Danny Cebula, Office Supervisor of Liberty Tax in Wilkes-Barre.

A new year comes with new changes.

“We just came off of back to back to back crazy tax seasons, with the deadlines, the stimulus, the unemployment changes, the changes in the child tax credit,” said Cebula.

This year’s tax season seems like it is finally getting back to normal, but the biggest difference to be aware of is the child tax credit.

“That is the money that they give back for their kids in their tax return, but ya they can expect that. They’re going to take your earned income into the account now instead of just being the 1500 dollars per kid,” said Cebula.

This will be a new form on Pennsylvania’s tax return that, for the first time, you can get money back for childcare expenses.

It is important to get a jump on filing to ensure you have the correct forms and that your return does not get held up. Especially when changes are made to the system yearly.

“Just when we all think we got it all figured out, they’ll change a rule and that’s why it’s important to get everything done professionally,” said Cebula.

But professional tax services can be costly.

“For a lot of people, if they would go to a commercial preparer it’s pretty expensive,” said Joseph Hammond, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program coordinator for the University of Scranton.

The University of Scranton and the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties offer the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

A free tax preparation service for households and seniors in NEPA with an income of 60,000 dollars or less in 2022.

“The amount of refunds they would get isn’t any different if they have it done for free or if they pay several hundreds of dollars. And that hundreds of dollars is in their pocket,” said Hammond.

The U offers walk-in services at Brennan Hall while the United Way is by appointment only.

“When we have a client come in we do the whole thing right then and it gets reviewed and we give them all the stuff they need,” said Hammond.

You can make an appointment or learn more online about VITA’s services.