If your income is $66,000 or less, you can file your tax returns online for free.
The IRS Free File program is a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, offering do-it-yourself tax preparation software at no charge.
The Free File Alliance is a group of a dozen major tax preparation software companies, including H&R Block and Intuit, that have agreed to provide free access to its online tax preparation and electronic filing software.
Generally, taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $66,000 or less for the 2017 tax year qualify to use the software through the IRS Free File program. You answer a few questions on the IRS Free File website and the IRS matches you with a software program.
The IRS Free File program is not well known. It is estimated that 100 million US taxpayers qualify for the IRS Free File program, yet only about three million use it each year.
Several members of the Free File Alliance also offer free versions of their tax preparation software through their own websites. However, each company sets its own guidelines on who qualifies to use the free version (income requirements may be lower), and they may set limits on the complexity of the returns that can be filed.
Thus, when using the IRS Free File program, be certain to start at and consistently return to work on your return via the IRS Free File website.
If your income is greater than $66,000 you can use Free Fillable Forms at IRS.gov.
These are electronic versions of the paper forms which you can fill out online. Limited guidance is available, however.
Three In-Person Tax Assistance Programs
If you prefer to work with a live person and you meet the qualifications, community-based, free personal tax return assistance is also available.
The IRS sponsors two in-person tax assistance programs. With both programs, the help is provided by IRS-certified volunteers who are associated with non-profit organizations receiving grants from the IRS.
1. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides free basic income tax return preparation. This service is available to people who typically make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and people with limited English speaking skills who need help to complete the tax forms.
2. Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offers tax help for all taxpayers, but gives priority to people aged 60 and above. It specializes in retirement-related issues unique to seniors.
Both the VITA and TCE programs focus on basic tax returns. If you have more complicated tax matters, such as Schedule C with losses or Schedule D with capital gains and losses, and want in-person assistance, you should consult with a professional tax preparer. The services available at each VITA and TCE site vary in accordance with the level of the volunteers’ certification.
For more information about the VITA and TCE programs and to locate a visit IRS.gov.
3. The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program offers free tax preparation assistance provided by IRS-certified volunteers. It serves low to moderate income taxpayers, particularly people 50 and older who can’t afford a tax preparation service. To locate an AARP Tax-Aid Program site, visit AARP.org.
This blog is published to provide you with general information only, and is not intended to provide specific or comprehensive advice. Money Care, LLC encourages individuals to seek advice from competent professionals when appropriate.