They say nothing is certain in life except death and taxes, and so long as you want to remain in good standing with the United States government, that’s certainly true. But learning how to get free tax help can be challenging.
How to Get Free Tax Help
Unfortunately, tax preparation can be expensive. According to CBS Money Watch, a 1040 with state return with no itemized deductions costs on average $159, while including a Schedule A (itemized deductions) bumps the price up to $273. Even the budget preparation services, such as H&R Block and Liberty Tax, cost $147 and $191, respectively, for a standard tax return.
Sure, sometimes it’s worth paying a tax preparer, but sometimes you just can’t afford it – especially when all you’re looking for is advice. Whether you need a bit of information or full tax prep for free, here are 10 options for how to get free tax help and what to look into today.
1. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, or VITA, is run by community of volunteers. They provide tax prep services for people earning less than $53,000 a year, and will file your return for you electronically post-prep. If you instead need advice, you can request that too. You’ll find a list of VITA locations on the Treasury Department’s website.
2. Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)
Tax Counseling for the Elderly serves people who are 60 or older. You’ll find more information about Tax Counseling for the Elderly if you call 1-888-227-7669.
3. Low-Income Tax Clinics
Low-Income Tax Clinics are run by the National Taxpayer Advocate, offering low-income individuals free tax advice and preparation services. This is also a good option if English is not your primary language.
4. Tax-Aide from AARP
If you are 50 or older, you’re eligible for free tax help from AARP through their Tax-Aide program. You can call them toll-free at 1-888-227-7669.
5. The Armed Forces Tax Council
Are you or were you a member of the armed forces? Then you qualify for help from Military One Source, which entitles you to free tax advice and preparation services from H&R Block. If you served in, or currently service in, the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard, you have access to a tax preparer who has been specifically trained in tax preparation for military personnel. To find out more, call their hotline at 1-800-730-3802.
6. Taxpayer Assistance Centers
The IRS provides Taxpayer Assistance Centers in every state, and often more than one. If you’re confused about how to file, have a question from a previous year’s return that needs amending, can’t pay your amount owed and need to set up a payment plan, want to talk through a letter from the IRS or otherwise need official assistance, call your nearest center for completely free advice.
7. The Taxpayer Advocate Service
Didn’t get what you needed from a Taxpayer Assistance Center? That happens more often than you think, so don’t despair. Instead, reach out to the Taxpayer Advocate. This independent organization is separate from the IRS, reports directly to Congress and has your best interests at heart. Their number is 1-877-777-4778.
8. Legal Clinics
Many law schools provide free tax advice legal clinics. This gives their tax law students a chance to practice their skills and gives you access to bright minds that understand the tax code better than you ever will. Keep an eye out for clinics in your area, or just call your local law school and inquire.
9. Tax and Accounting Firms
Many tax and accounting firms offer free consultations, either over the phone or in person. If you want to make sure you spend your money well when getting paid tax prep services, or just want a few questions answered before taking a DIY software route, you can set up one of these consultations and ask your main questions.
10. Online Tax Software
You can also find many of the answers you’re looking for by heading to a free online tax preparation software provider. These include IRS Free File Alliance, TurboTax Federal Free Filing Option, TaxSlayer.com Free Federal, H&R Block Free Edition and TaxAct Free Edition, among others. They offer roughly the same services, so feel free to take a look at a few before signing up for an account. Once you have an account, you’ll be able to input your information and see your options.
There’s no doubt: Taxes are difficult. But if you take the time to access the many free resources available to you, either alone or in combination, you’ll have an easier time getting those taxes right, saving money and providing for your future. Don’t wait to find free tax help; get started today.
Do you now have a better understanding of How to Get Free Tax Help? Let us know in the comment section below!