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Everything you need to know about filing your GR city taxes

Posted at 6:25 PM, Apr 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-15 21:35:46-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Tax season is already a stressful time, and for many, filing city taxes can be even more confusing.

At least, that's the stereotype. However, Grand Rapids' income tax administrator said it's not as complicated as you might think.

“It’s fun nowhere, but it shouldn’t be difficult," said Colton Hounshell, who was filing his taxes at city offices Friday.

He represents a lot of us during tax season. Ever since he moved to Grand Rapids two years ago, though, he said it's been the same story — taxes are no fun and they're difficult.

Like many of us, he tried to use TurboTax to e-file, but that specific platform doesn't work with the city. So, instead he had to use an off day from his job to stand at the Income Tax Services window downtown for an hour to file in person.

“I mean, I love the city itself," Hounshell explained. "This is just the one thing every year that’s just kind of a punch in the gut to be honest.”

Jennifer Woodard, the city's tax income administrator, said it doesn't have to feel like that, especially now that the city created its own digital upload system last year.

“You go to our website; there’s a big green button; you click on that; you enter one of the social security numbers on your return," said Woodard. "You don’t even need both of them if you’re filing jointly. [You need] your name, your email, your phone number, and then you just attach the document from TurboTax and we’ll use that to process the return.”

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Woodard said the city does work with several software providers who e-file. TurboTax is just the only one that doesn't have a partnership with the city.

In fact, Woodard said the city receives about 53,000 e-files every year.

As for those who choose to file manually, Woodard said, “The form does look extremely complex. It’s to catch everybody’s needs. Most people actually only need line one, which is the wages line, but it’s trying to catch all the businesses and other taxable income that someone could have if they were a resident or a non-resident, which is why the form looks so scary.”

Woodard said most people who file get a tax return between $5–$10. If you don't collect it, your money is treated as a rolling credit, and you have 10 years to cash it out.

Then, there's the group of people who never file at all. The city gives those people four years to file returns and collect refunds. If they don't, and the return is less than $25, the money is allocated across four funds that support the city of Grand Rapids.

If the return is more than $25, the money goes to the state of Michigan.

If those people owe the city money, they get penalized an additional 1% every month that fee is not paid, up to 25%, on top of interest set by the state.

Woodard said the city will send constant reminders and due-diligence letters to alert you during that process. If it goes on for years, there's a chance your case will get sent to court, but that's very rare.

Woodard said, in her 20 years, she's only seen that happen once.

In all, Woodard said the issue isn't necessarily that people are choosing not to file; it's just that they simply didn't know they had to file in the first place.

“If you, for example, are installing roofs or something like that, and you’re doing a roof in Grand Rapids, that’s taxable at the non-resident," said Woodard. "A lot of contractors and things like that, they think because their building isn’t in Grand Rapids, they don’t have to file.”

Tax Day this year is next Monday, April 18. Originally, the deadline to file taxes in Grand Rapids was April 30, but that's been pushed back to May 2.

READ MORE: IRS offers free electronic filing, tax help before Tax Day

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