(WHTM) — Tax season is officially under way, with Monday, January 23 marking the first day people could file 2022 taxes, but there are changes that could affect some people’s refunds.

Several COVID-era programs which increased tax credits and put more money in people’s pockets have ended, which could mean a smaller refund. The good news is there is help out there to navigate all this.

“Last year, we returned way over $4 million to working families in our community,” Heidi Neuhaus, director of the Volunteer Center at United Way of the Capitol region, said.

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For people filing their 2022 taxes, an ABC news report warns: be prepared for a smaller refund. According to the report, the biggest factor is that the government did not issue any stimulus checks in 2022. Some people had collected earlier checks issued in 2020 and 2021 in their refunds.

“Yes there are some benefits that are…no longer available,” Neuhaus said.

Several tax credits that got bumped up during the pandemic have also dropped back to 2019 levels. In 2021, Congress expanded the child tax credit to $3,600 for children under six and $3,000 for children six to 18. That credit has dropped back to $2,000. The tax credit for child and dependent care has also dropped from up to $8,000 back to just over $2,100.

Navigating all this can be confusing.

“Many of our clients, they don’t understand the process,” Neuhaus said. “It’s enough to bring a lot of anxiety.”

United Way of the Capitol Region is trying to help. As part of a federal program, the nonprofit offers free tax preparation services in several Midstate counties to families who need it the most.

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“Our volunteers are specifically geared towards the tax credits that our families are entitled to,” Neuhaus said.

Trained volunteers help low and moderate-income families get every possible benefit and get money back quickly.

“Please consider listening to your prepare when they tell you to electronically file your return. The IRS, like every other agency, was closed during the pandemic, so they are sitting on a huge backlog of paper returns,” Neuhaus said.

Experts say the fastest way to get a refund is to file electronically and file early. The deadline to file 2022 taxes is April 18.