Photo: Free Tax Prep
Filing your taxes shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. In fact, it shouldn’t cost a penny if you do it through some of the free tax preparation programs offered by the federal government.
The Internal Revenue Service has a free tax-preparation program for virtually every taxpayer, regardless of income. Taxpayers can also file their taxes online, which speeds up the process for getting back a refund.
The following are the three main free tax-preparation programs offered by the IRS:
Free Tax Preparation for Everybody.
Free Fileis an online service available to all taxpayers. More than 100 million people prepared and filed their federal taxes using Free File in 2010 It’s popular because it’s fast, safe and free. One of the benefits of using Free File is that taxpayers have the option to choose direct deposit and get their refund in around 10 days.
Tax payers with an adjusted gross income of $58,000 or less in 2010 will use brand-name software.
Taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of more than $58,000 in 2010 will use Free File forms
Although Free File is for federal taxes, some states offer State Free File to help taxpayers prepare and file their state taxes for free.
Free Tax Preparation for Low Income Taxpayers
Low to moderate income taxpayers can receive free tax assistance through the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, or VITA. This is for people who generally make $49,000 or less and are unable to prepare their own taxes.
VITA offers help through volunteers in various community organizations across the country. The volunteers can help taxpayers in several languages, including Spanish, Mandarin and sign language. They can also file their taxes online.
To locate a VITA site, call 1 (800) 906-9887 or visit the VITA free tax-preparation site list.
Free Tax Preparation for Senior Citizens
The IRS has two ways to help senior citizens prepare their taxes for free.
The first way is through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program, or TCE. This is an alliance between the IRS and several community organizations across the country who help senior citizens with their taxes. Volunteers are usually senior citizens themselves who work with nonprofit organizations.
To locate a TCE site, call 1 (800) 829-1040.
The second way is through a partnership with the American Association of Retired People (AARP), a nonprofit organization that represents senior citizens. This entity has more than 7,000 sites nationwide with volunteers who specialize in the tax needs of senior citizens.
To locate an AARP site, call 1 (888) 227-7669.
USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov are the U.S. Government’s official web portals in English and Spanish, and part of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).