With tax day rapidly approaching on April 18, Americans are closing in on the deadline to get their documents filed with the federal government, and if you think you have to plunk down a hefty sum to make sure your paperwork is in order, think again.
There are numerous ways to file your taxes for free, whether through doing it yourself or getting help from an expert.
IRS FREE FILE
“Free File” software can be acquired by anyone making less than $73,000 per year, which encompasses about 70% of all taxpayers, and is available in eight different versions. The options can be accessed on the official IRS website, and you’ll want to use the link here. Sometimes using a search engine can place you inadvertently on a site that wants you to pay for the service.
The IRS site can also point you towards the free software you specifically qualify for by way of a special search tool, since each different program can require different income qualifications to access.
The one drawback is that two of the most popular tax tools, TurboTax and H&R Block, no longer offer free options through the site.
FREE FILE FILLABLE FORMS (4F)
If you are perhaps more well-versed in the tax code than the average taxpayer and don’t need the guidance that software can provide, you can fill out the equivalent of a paper return electronically by accessing Free File Fillable Forms on the IRS website. Essentially, it’s a selection of the most common tax forms offered as PDFs that the user can fill out with a computer keyboard without even printing them out. But the user will need to know beforehand which tax forms they need and how to fill them out.
If you choose this option, you’ll have to create a new account every single year because, for security reasons, the IRS purges all account information every year once tax season ends.
VOLUNTEER INCOME TAX ASSISTANCE (VITA)
While the federal government at this point would rather everyone file their taxes electronically utilizing any of the numerous methods available, they recognize that there are some taxpayers who would rather deal get help from a live human.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance is available to any taxpayer making less than $58,000 per year and offers volunteers trained by the IRS to aid with accurate tax filing at sites located in neighborhoods all over the country.
The IRS website has a search tool to help find where any sites might be located near you. All sites are run locally and have different regulations, so read the rules thoroughly for each one. Hours may vary as well as what days the site is open, whether an appointment must be made, and whether taxes for multiple years can be filed of if it is limited to the current tax period.
TAX ASSISTANCE FOR OLDER AMERICANS
Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) also offers on-site assistance for Americans over the age of 60. There are no income limitations for who is eligible and the volunteers who work the sites are specifically trained to answer questions that may arise in filing taxes for seniors.
The sites are run by AARP through the organization’s Tax Aide program. You can find a list of sites on the AARP website as well as other options for filing including fully virtual or low-contact assistance.