Where Can You Get Your Taxes Done For Free?

Posted by Kristen on March 17, 2014

While we all have to pay taxes, you actually may not have to pay to get your taxes done. There are five options that might just allow you not to pay a penny this year while you are filing your federal taxes. Many of these programs are based on income, age, or the types of forms you will be filling out.

photo by: ota_photos

Photo Credit: ota_photos

Where Can You Get Your Taxes Done For Free?

Here are five ways you may be eligible to get your taxes done for free and how it works. If you need to know whether or not you need to file a tax return, see How Much Money Do You Have to Make to File Taxes?

IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

  • This program is designed to help those who earn $52,000 or less per year.
  • Trained IRS volunteers assist with your basic income tax return preparation.
  • You can file electronically.
  • Many times these places are located in convenient community locations such as a library, school, community college, or town center.
  • With this program, it is a basic filing. Certain types of income may not be eligible, such as income from a rental property. Also, certain deductions may be unable to be claimed for this service as well, such as moving expenses.
  • Before you go, find out if it is necessary to make a scheduled appointment, what documents you will need to bring, if all of the items you need to report are eligible with this program, and what deductions they are able to help you with.
  • You can call (800) 906-9887 for more information.
  • Find a VITA site by using the IRS map to search for a location near you.

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)

  • If you are 60 years old or older, you may be able to get your federal taxes done for free with Tax Counseling for the Elderly.
  • Many volunteers specialize in retirement, social security, and pension issues so they can help you understand these issues.
  • Before you go, find out if you need to make an appointment, what you need to bring with you, and if there is anything about your specific case that would make you not eligible for this assistance. For example, if you are eligible to claim a certain deduction that they wouldn’t be able to help you with.
  • Many of these locations are in convenient nearby places such as a library, recreation center, and senior centers.
  • You can call (888) 227-7669 for more information.
  • Find a Tax-Aid site by using this map. There are 5,000 locations nationwide.

File for free with IRS Free File

  • If you earned $58,000 or less last year, you may be able to file your taxes for free with software through the IRS website.
  • This program uses a free tax prep software to help for filing basic tax returns.
  • State returns are also available.
  • You start by entering information, and the website will then match you to the best software to fit your specific situation.
  • There is customer support available if needed as well.
  • For more information, visit the File Free page on IRS.gov.

Use the IRS free Fillable Forms

  • If you make more than 58,000, there is still an option through the IRS to file your taxes for free.
  • This does not use a tax software, and it is not as easy. Only basic guidance is offered, and it is best for someone who knows how to file their taxes on their own.
  • As with all of the other services, there are additional restrictions. Before you start, read what types of forms are allowed and what types of deductions you can claim while using this program.
  • Visit the Free Fillable Forms page for more information.

Tax Software Programs Online

  • Websites such as TurboTax offer free tax filing in addition to the programs that cost money.
  • In most cases, these programs are only best for simple federal returns, 1040EZ forms, first-time filers, or students.
  • Certain forms aren’t acceptable for these programs, such as a 1099 if you did freelance or contract work.
  • In many cases, you won’t be able to claim certain deductions or credits. Have you made a charitable donation? Paid health expenses? Check to see if any of the deductions you’d like to make or tax credits you’d like to claim are accepted with these programs.

Things to Remember

Understand your specific tax situation before you head out to try to get it done for free by one of these programs or before using online software. One suggestion is to write down every form you received. When you are contacting a professional affiliated with these programs, double check that each of these forms are okay. Also, write down various deductions or other items you want to claim or report. Can they help you if you donated things to charity? What if you have paid alimony, paid interest on a student loan, or have self employed deductions because you own your own business? Also consider:

  • The income restrictions are for the year you are filing for so it is what you earned that year. For example, if you lost your job and are unemployed this year and are now in a lower tax bracket, but you earned over the income listed, you do not qualify for the program.
  • The longer you wait, chances are the busier these programs will be. Make an appointment to avoid waiting in long lines or not being able to get it done by the tax deadline.
  • Double check that you are bringing everything you need to get your taxes done. Depending on the program or the specific location, there may be a checklist of items you should bring, including information about your dependents. If there is any hesitation about a specific document or anything else, you’re better off bringing it to be safe.
  • As with any circumstance where you are dealing with sensitive personal and financial information, be sure you have all your documents before you leave the location. You don’t want to leave something with your social security number or other important information on it.
  • In some of these cases, you may still have to pay to file your state taxes.

Have you ever gotten your taxes done for free? What do you think of the free online programs offered? What tips can you give for someone looking for financial assistance with their taxes this year?

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