Stuck on your taxes? Here’s how to get free help
It’s no secret that income taxes in the United States are complicated and stressful. A recent SurePayroll survey found that nearly half of Americans have headaches just thought on their taxes, and IRS data shows that 53% of all taxpayers have needed the help of a paid tax professional in 2021.
However, you do not have to pay any money to obtain tax assistance. Eligible seniors can get help from AARP, often at their local libraries, and there are local IRS offices across the country that book appointments at no charge.
Some free tax aid is only available to specific groups of people, such as seniors or English learners, but other aid, including local IRS offices with Saturday walk-in hours you, are open to all.
Read on to learn all about free help filing your taxes. For more tax advice, discover how to file your tax return with a phone or tablet And how to track your tax refund.
IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers
IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers are IRS offices located across the country, in every state. In addition to providing a space for taxpayers to provide paper tax returns or file payments, TACs also provide free assistance on a variety of tax-related issues.
TACs generally only operate on weekdays and by appointment. However, from February through May, approximately 40 TACs in 24 states are open the second Saturday of the month, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. without an appointment.
Income Tax Help for Volunteers
VITA is offered by the IRS for people who meet one of the following criteria:
- Those earning less than $56,000
- Older taxfilers, including seniors
- Those who speak little English
VITA is at the community level. You can find VITA help at community centers, libraries, schools and similar places. Find VITA help near you.
Tax advice for the elderly
While VITA may serve older filers, TCE specifically targets seniors. Keep in mind, however, that you can still use TCE services even if you are not 60 or older.
TCE specializes in retirement-related concerns, including information on pensions and other retirement plans. This help comes from IRS certified volunteers. TCE help is usually offered at the same place as VITA: places linked to the community. Look for TCE help in your neighborhood.
AARP Foundation Tax Assistance
AARP offers free tax preparation through its AARP Foundation Tax Assistance Program each year from February 1 through Tax Day, which is April 18 of that year. Generally, Tax-Aide helps low- and moderate-income taxpayers over the age of 50, though it promises that its services are available to everyone, whether you’re an AARP member or not.
AARP’s tax assistance program has been in existence for more than 50 years and has helped 68 million taxpayers. The service is available by appointment only: Click here to find available appointments.
Military OneSource, or MilTax, is offered by the Department of Defense in partnership with H&R Block for those on active duty. It also covers their spouses, dependent children and survivors.
The service provides free tax software as well as resources for military personnel and their families, such as financial and legal assistance. You can get help by phone or live chat. If possible, you could get free in-person assistance if you live on or near a base.
Free tax filing software
When you qualify for free deposit services by software like H&R Block and TurboTax, you also have access to free support. If you plan to file your taxes for free, you might want to check with your software to see what kinds of help they offer. Some offers may require you to pay additional fees for support, but not everyone charges tax support.
Universities, Nonprofits, and Tax Clinics
Sometimes you can find help from promising professionals. If you have a question or concern regarding your filing, contact your local law school or business school. You might find a student who would appreciate the training to meet your request.
You can also contact tax clinics. The IRS has the Clinic for Low-Income Taxpayers program that helps those who otherwise cannot hire legal help. It is free or at low cost for the taxpayers who are entitled to it. Each clinic determines which clients meet the guidelines and eligibility.
Many community-supported organizations are also available, but not all states, cities, or counties offer the same services. You may want to see what is offered in your area before hiring a professional that you will need to pay. Some of these services are reserved for people who need legal help when facing lawsuits or related issues from the IRS. So if you have a non-urgent tax question, you may not qualify for help from a tax clinic.
You can also try a local tax professional. Many of them offer free consultations to help you decide whether to file your case on your own or with the help of an expert. You can do a simple search online or see if the National Society of Accountants can help you find someone in your area.
If you have any questions about your return, how to file, or anything related to your taxes, you can call the IRS helpline at 1-800-829-1040. There is no limit to how often you can call, and if so, the helpline will provide you with as much information as possible.
Even if you don’t know if your question will be answered, it’s best to try first. The IRS might be able to point you in the right direction to get the help you need.
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