We hate to be the ones to remind you of an unpleasant task, but your tax return is due in a short while. Millions of Americans have not filed their taxes yet and for many it is because calculating what you owe is complicated and professional tax preparation isn’t cheap. However, there are ways to get free tax help. Here are five options.
IRS Free File. If your adjusted gross income is less than $72,000 (the IRS estimates that this is the case for about 70% of all taxpayers) the IRS provides free tax preparation software from ten tax-preparation companies. This freebie is the result of a partnership between the IRS and a nonprofit organization called the Free File Alliance. IRS Free File providers include major players in tax prep software including Turbo Tax, Tax Slayer, and Tax Act. Be aware, however, that while the federal filing is free, you may have to pay for your state return. You can access the IRS’s Free File at IRS.gov/freefile.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). Community organizations across the country offer free tax preparation for low and moderate income individuals, elderly taxpayers, the disabled and those who are not fluent in English. IRS-certified volunteers do the tax prep work which is made possible through a federal grant program. To qualify for VITA help your income generally has to be no more than $57,000. To find a VITA site near you go to irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/ and enter your zip code.
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. With more than 38 million members, AARP is the largest organization focused on issues for Americans over 50 years old. It is no surprise then that AARP offers free tax help for low to moderate income persons in this age group. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic much of their tax service is conducted virtually and by appointment only. To get started go to: taxaide.aarpfoundation.org/.
MilTax. Military service members and their families can get easy access to free tax software from H&R Block through this Department of Defense program. In addition to secure online tax preparation and e-filing, participants can also get their tax questions answered by phone and via live chat with tax consultants and financial counselors with military expertise. Face-to-face tax advice is available on most military bases. To download the software, find helpline phone numbers, and see if a nearby military installation offers in-person tax help go to: Militaryonesource.mil.
My Free Taxes. This program from the United Way offers free tax preparation for both federal and state returns. An easy-to-navigate website—unitedway.org/myfreetaxes/unitedway—takes you through the process step-by-step and it promises that you will get every deduction you qualify for.