Even though April 15th, 2020 seems like a long time away, it is important to plan ahead so that you don’t find yourself running up against a deadline that you’re not prepared for.
Tax season can be extremely stressful, so why not alleviate some of that stress by looking into a few ways to get your taxes done for free? Today we’ll discuss four of the most well-known, and what qualifications you need to have in order to be eligible to use them to file for free. Let’s get started!
1. IRS Free File
One of the best options for filing taxes for free comes straight from the source. The IRS Free File program made its debut in 2003, and has helped millions of United States citizens prepare their taxes free of charge since then. The program is a joint effort between the Internal Revenue Service and the Free File Alliance.
The qualifications for Free File can vary from year to year depending on the tax laws, so make sure to check your specific circumstances to make sure you can file for free. Roughly 70% of tax filers generally qualify, and the most recent tax rules allow anyone who makes $66,000 or less annually to use the service. Access is through the IRS website. The program also includes any electronic filing fees that may occur, as well as the actual tax preparation itself. This is an entirely online program, and does not include any in-person tax assistance.
2. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
Another IRS offered program is the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (also known as VITA). The program was established in 1969, turning 50 years old in 2019. It has grown exponentially in that time, including more volunteers and additional locations for tax preparations to hopefully reach all qualified people.
VITA is similar to the Free File program already provided by the IRS, with the additional benefit of having professional tax preparers personally walk you through every step of the process. The service also includes the e-filing fees.
This program is offered to tax filers who make $55,000 or less annually, as well as people with disabilities and people with limited ability to speak and understand English.
There is a VITA site locator tool on the website, that allows interested and qualified tax filers to search based on area code and approved range from their location.
3. AARP Tax-Aide
For seniors, the AARP Tax-Aide program is a great opportunity to have their federal taxes prepared and filed free of charge. Tax preparation is offered by volunteer tax professionals at specific physical locations, which can be found on their website. This is a great program for seniors, as the physical process of finding and filing the right forms and information can feel incredibly overwhelming.
Qualifications for the program are only that the filer is eligible for a 1040 tax form. There are some tax related situations that will make seniors ineligible for free filing – specifically income from rental properties and farms.
State tax preparation and filing is also available in certain states.
4. My Free Taxes
One last option for filing your taxes for free is through My Free Taxes.
Any tax filers with an annual income of $66,000 or less are eligible, and the program includes more tax filing situations and forms than any other free program out there. It is sponsored and run through H&R Block, one of the best known tax preparation services. Over one million people have taken advantage of My Free Taxes since its debut in 2009.
All tax preparation and e-filing is performed at physical locations, which can be found by using the tool located on their website. Tax filers who do not need in-person assistance can also use the online filing tool and file on their own.
No matter what your tax circumstances are, chances are there is a free filing and/or tax preparation program out there for you. The majority of Americans qualify for at least one of the above options – IRS Free File, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), AARP Tax-Aide, or My Free Taxes through the United Way. There is no reason to stress out about tax preparation or e-filing fees!