You may be eligible for free tax assistance if you are submitting a basic tax return, attempting to modify past years’ forms, or owing money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). There are several free tax preparation programs available, ranging from free software to community-based services. Here are nine places to get free tax guidance.
- Filers and taxpayers with a dispute may get free tax advice from a number of places.
- It offers free versions of popular internet software, volunteer tax preparation and online counseling, legal clinics, IRS phone lines, and office locations.
- Free advice and tax preparation aid, as well as software, often handle very easy tax returns; if yours is complicated, you will almost certainly need to acquire software or seek expert assistance.
1. Free Tax Software
If you want to create a simple return and are comfortable doing it online, a number of firms provide free, basic software for taxpayers of all income levels.
The IRS Free File site, which provides free services from pre-approved providers that are in some instances more comprehensive than those offered directly from the firms, is the easiest method to get them for taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $73,000 or less as of the 2021 tax year.
Taxpayers of any income level may also utilize IRS Free Submit to electronically fill out and file online tax forms straight from the IRS, albeit they provide no help and only limited computations.
Private companies’ free guided preparation software will compute your basic taxes, deductions, and credits and instantly submit your return. Some systems charge a fee to report things like freelancing income or mortgage deductions, whilst others include them in their free services. State tax filings may also incur additional fees. You should constantly study the program’s description to ensure that it handles more difficult jobs, such as company costs for self-employed individuals, if you need them. Among the direct vendors of free tax software are:
- H&R Block
- Cash App Taxes
If the free versions lack the functionality you need, search the internet for a product that does.
2. Community-Based Free Tax Preparation
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) teach volunteers to complete tax returns for taxpayers 60 and older, members of the military, and people with low or moderate incomes, impairments, or limited English. For individuals who do not qualify otherwise, the yearly income restriction is $58,000 or less.
IRS community partners sponsor these programs, which are administered by IRS-certified volunteers. They will create simple returns but not more sophisticated ones such as home office deductions or elaborate capital gains and losses schedules.
Use the IRS locate tool or call 800-906-9887 to find a VITA or TCE site.
Counseling Appointment Checklist
Both spouses must present if they are married and filing jointly. Taxpayers must bring:
- Government identifications
- Social Security cards or other forms of taxpayer identification for dependents and joint filers
- A copy of the previous year’s tax return, as well as any tax paperwork
3. AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide Program
The AARP Foundation’s in-person and virtual tax help is available to anybody, while the program’s major concentration is on taxpayers over the age of 50 and those with low or moderate incomes. It is not necessary to be an AARP member. The IRS has also certified the volunteer counselors in this program. The program’s website offers an office location as well as online tax preparation with counselors.
4. Military OneSource Tax Resource Center
The US Defense Department’s Military OneSource tax resource center offers free tax preparation software, live chat assistance, and referrals to military tax experts to service members and select veterans. It also includes a search function for VITA counselors with experience in military tax concerns, which is handled by the United States military.
5. Free Legal Clinics
Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics are free or low-cost depending on income qualifying and may assist people in IRS disputes. They also offer education and outreach to English as a second language people. In 2021, the income limits for qualifying in the 48 contiguous US states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico were $32,200 for a single taxpayer, $43,550 for a couple, and $66,250 for a family of four. Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics generally only assist when the amount in dispute is less than $50,000. The IRS offers a location tool to help you locate the closest clinic. Because to the COVID-19 outbreak, many offices have moved to remote work.
6. IRS Interactive Tax Assistant
Taxpayers may use the IRS Interactive Tax Assistant to get information on a range of issues. Based on your information, it may decide if you need to submit a tax return, claim a dependent, or deduct a cost. The entries are not saved, shared, or linked to a specific user.
7. IRS Help Lines
Taxpayers who have particular inquiries can contact the IRS at 800-829-1040. There are phone support lines for companies, non-profit taxes, inheritance and gift taxes, excise taxes, and international callers, as well as a large list of issues that IRS phone staff will not cover.
According to the IRS, wait times may average 13 minutes from January to April and 19 minutes from May to December, while particular service lines may have larger wait times. Presidents Day weekend and the run-up to the April tax filing deadline, as well as Mondays and Tuesdays, are particularly hectic. Calling later in the week, just after the lines open (usually at 7 or 8 a.m. local time), may reduce the wait time.
The IRS phone lines were flooded with a record 282 million calls in 2021, almost tripling the previous year’s level, stretching wait times to 23 minutes on average for the 32 million callers who reached a representative.
8. IRS Tax Offices
If your tax problems cannot be handled online or over the phone, call local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center to schedule an in-person appointment. The IRS directions website for arranging such visits includes a locating tool to help you locate your nearest office.
9. Taxpayer Advocate Service
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent IRS entity tasked with protecting the interests of all taxpayers and assisting individuals whose tax difficulties are causing financial hardship. It may intervene on behalf of taxpayers whose attempts to address a matter via conventional means have failed or who think the process has not operated properly. TAS assists corporations as well as people of all income levels.
The Bottom Line
You are not required to submit your taxes if you cannot or will not employ an accountant or pay for software. Volunteer tax preparation centers and free versions of popular tax preparation software, as well as the Internal Revenue Service website, phone centers, and offices, may provide free assistance.
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