Are you paying too much to file your taxes? Missing some valuable credits? You can get free tax filing! Prepare now so that April 15th is less stressful.
Also remember that even if you don’t owe taxes, you could get a refund! The government could still owe you money! However, if you do not file within three years you will lose your refund. Also, if you file late and you owe taxes, you will pay hefty late fees. Either way, take advantage of free tax filing to save you money!
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FREE Tax Filing for those with Low Income
If you’re looking for free tax filing for low-income people, then you can find what you need from free tax software or through volunteer assistance. I recommend the volunteer assistance because it’s always nice to have someone there to guide you.
The VITA, or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, are trained tax preparers who offer free tax preparation and they will deal with IRS notices for free. If you make $54,000 or less a year, have disabilities or speak limited English, you can use their services. If you have a simple tax return, this is a perfect solution to get it done for free! It’s also great for college students. Since most of the volunteers are college students or seniors, they can only handle a limited amount of more complicated returns.
Where to find VITA
You can find a VITA center at college campuses, community centers, or shopping malls. In 2018, over 11,000 sites were set up in the U.S! Use this locator to find an office near you. Or use this Google Maps locator. However, I learned that the locator does not list every site. Check with a college campus near you to see if they have a VITA program.
Free Tax Filing for Seniors
The TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) offers all taxpayers free tax filing, but specializes in helping those 60 and older. All volunteers are IRS certified plus, they can answer questions about pensions and retirement-related issues. Most TCE locations are operated by AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program. Note that the AARP tax program is only open from mid-January through April 15th. Find AARP tax help near you.
Free Tax Filing for Military
You can often find a VITA center on base. You may also want to look at the IRS list of tax benefits and information for military. Additionally, active duty military members can file free tax returns through any of the software companies below.
Preparation – Information You Need to File a Tax Return
You will always want to bring proof of identification like a photo ID to file your tax return. You should also bring social security cards for you, your spouse and dependents. However, if you do not have a social security number for you, your spouse and your dependents, you can use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter instead. Make sure you also know birthdates for everyone.
If you are employed, you will need to bring wage and earning statements from all employers (these are the forms you filled out when you were hired like the W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, and 1099-Misc).
If you want the IRS to deposit your tax refund directly to your bank, you will also want to bring your bank routing and account numbers (a blank check works great for this purpose).
Here’s a list of other things you may need to file your tax return. Not everyone will have these documents, but if you have them you should definitely bring them.
- A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available
- Child care information, such as the total amount paid for daycare and the provider’s tax numbers (EIN or SSN).
- Health Insurance Exemption Certificate, if received
- Forms 1095-A, B and C, Health Coverage Statements
- Interest and Dividend statements
What to bring if you are from outside the U.S.
First off, you are still eligible for free tax filing even if you are from outside the U.S. You will need proof of identification like a photo ID. You will also need your ITIN. An ITIN, or individual taxpayer identification number, is for those who need to file a U.S. tax return and cannot get a social security number. If you need to apply for an ITIN you will also need proof of foreign status. Check out free tax return software, or visit a VITA center nearby.
Free Tax Filing Software
There are a dozen different software programs that offer free tax filing for low income! They have different qualifications to file tax returns for free, but they are ALL free for active duty military. Some of the VITA and TCE locations allow you to use these software programs there with guidance from an IRS-certified volunteer. Use the IRS Free Software Lookup to find the right software to get your tax return free.
Filing More Complicated Tax Returns
If you have a more difficult tax return you might still be able to get free tax filing! Some accounting firms will do your return and take their fees out of your refund. So, you can file your taxes for no out of pocket costs. Just talk with your local accountant to see if they will take their fees from your refund.
It is important to realize that if you do not get a refund from the IRS then you will still have to pay your accountant’s fees.
Another option is to file your own taxes with free file filable forms. Just insert your information into the premade forms.
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Disclaimer: Beware scams! The IRS will almost never give you a phone call. If someone tries to contact you over the phone from the IRS, it is almost definitely a scam and you should hang up. However, they do send letters by mail. If you receive mail from the IRS, contact someone at VITA or a professional who can help you respond, but do take their mail seriously. For more information read How to Know it’s Really the IRS Calling or Knocking on Your Door.