The best tax return preparation is free tax return preparation. It’s a shame our tax code is so complicated many people feel they can’t do it on their own and need help. But help is available. Even free help.
If you’re among the 70% of taxpayers who earned $64,000 or less last year, IRS
Free File is available – offered by 12 tax software companies that make their products available for free. You input your information as the software walks you through each step and then files your return.
Each year, millions of people have their tax returns prepared for free by IRS-certified volunteers associated with local non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.
There are two primary programs:
- The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is for those whose: income falls within guidelines ($30K individual/$54K family), are disabled, military personnel, or have limited English-speaking ability.
- Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program is especially for those aged 60 and older. They are given priority, but ANYONE, can apply for their assistance – especially if your return in fairly uncomplicated. Most people don’t know that, and that’s why more people don’t take advantage of this program.
You can find the non-profit agencies that administer both of these programs in your local area here at the IRS website.
The IRS website is full of helpful information. A word of warning: Do NOT go to any “irs” site that does not end in “.gov”. Don’t be lured to .com, .org, or anything other than .gov
Another free service WITH NO INCOME OR AGE RESTRICTIONS is TaxACT Free Federal Edition (TaxACT.com) Filing your federal and state taxes are free if you have a simple return and do not itemize or have investment income to report. If you do, they charge $29.95 plus an additional $37 to file state taxes if you live in a state with state income tax.