The most common free tax preparation is Free File from one of the Free File Alliance partner providers, such as TurboTax and TaxSlayer. How you use the free tax help depends on your gross income. You qualify for free tax help if your annual income is less than $72,000. A partnered provider of your choice will help you electronically file (e-file) your federal return. You may also receive a free state filing if you live in a state where there is a partnered provider.
Areas with the Free File program for state tax filings include Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia, plus the District of Columbia.
The tax preparer may charge you a fee for helping with a state return if you do not live in the areas mentioned above. However, your state’s website should have a Free File option for regional returns.
If you earn more than $72,000 annually, you can still file your federal return using Free File Fillable Forms from Free File Alliance partners. However, you will need to prepare your filing independently, as you will not qualify for tax assistance.
Free File Fillable Forms do not give you tax guidance on your federal return, and there may not be a state filing option. It only does basic calculations and does not check for errors like Free File.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has taxpayer assistance centers that provide free help from volunteer staff members. Volunteers pass IRS-certified tax law training. You qualify for the free VITA program if you:
· Earn less than $57,000 annually.
· Have a disability.
· Have a limited comprehension of the English language.
The federal government has IRS taxpayer assistance centers to help low- to moderate-income individuals, limited-English speakers, the elderly, and those with disabilities.
Taxpayer assistance centers are at libraries, schools, and similar neighborhood centers. You can locate a site by searching online for “free tax clinics near me” or using the VITA Locator Tool on the IRS website.
VITA may not be suitable if you have more complicated taxes. If you freelance or invest, VITA volunteers will not complete a Schedule C or D tax form.
You will need several tax documents to use either Free File or VITA, such as W-2s, health coverage statements, and bank statements. Check the IRS website for a list of forms to bring with you to a VITA tax center for assistance. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) is a government program that provides tax assistance for seniors.
The elderly have other tax assistance options, such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Next, find out what in-person and software tax help services are available for seniors and taxpayers of all ages, plus tax assistance for military families.