Filing your taxes correctly and on time is critical to avoiding penalties from the IRS and delays in receiving potential refunds. With the 2024 tax season underway, it’s important to know your options for tax preparation assistance in your local area. This article provides a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to finding tax filing locations near you.
Why Finding The Right Location Matters
Knowing your tax filing options ensures your taxes are filed properly. Filing at the wrong location can delay refunds or result in penalties if filed late. Reasons why finding the right tax filing location is essential:
- Avoid Penalties: Filing at the wrong place or missing deadlines may incur financial penalties.
- Receive Refunds Quickly: Correct filing ensures fast processing of any refunds you are owed.
- Get Expert Help: Using qualified tax preparers reduces errors and audits.
Step 1: Check IRS Free File Program
The IRS provides a Free File program allowing taxpayers earning $73,000 or less in 2022 to file federal returns for free using guided tax preparation software.
To qualify for free filing in 2023, your 2022 adjusted gross income must be $73,000 or less. The IRS Free File program is available to all ages.
This free guided software walks you through the process of filing complete and accurate returns. It is accessible online from any computer or mobile device.
Step 2: Find Local Tax Preparation Assistance
If you do not qualify for the IRS Free File program or prefer in-person tax filing help, multiple options for tax preparation assistance exist across the country.
A. IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
The IRS coordinates free tax help sites nationwide through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. IRS-certified volunteers provide basic income tax return preparation to qualified individuals free of charge.
To locate a VITA site near you, use the VITA Locator Tool. Bring valid photo ID and Social Security cards for all persons listed on your tax return, plus any tax documents.
B. AARP Tax-Aide Program
AARP coordinates the Tax-Aide program providing free tax assistance and preparation services nationwide. While aimed at taxpayers over 50, Tax-Aide helps taxpayers of all ages.
Use AARP’s Tax-Aide Site Locator to find a location near you. Support ranges from tax preparation to simply answering questions.
C. Paid Tax Preparation Services
Paid tax preparation services like H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, Liberty Tax, local CPAs, etc. offer tax filing help for a fee. Costs vary based on the complexity of your tax situation.
We recommend using paid preparers active in the Annual Filing Season Program with PTIN numbers. Verify credentials of paid preparers before engaging their services.
Step 3: Review State & Local Filing Options
Many U.S. states and local municipalities also require filing annual income tax returns. Be sure to review state and local government websites for additional tax filing locations and assistance programs.
For example, local public libraries or community centers may host tax preparation help events at certain times of the year. Check with your local county or city to identify any tax filing services offered nearby.
Step 4: Gather Necessary Documents
Before visiting any tax filing location, gather records of all your 2022 income and deductions. This includes:
- W-2s from all employers
- 1099 forms reporting any other income
- Records of deductible expenses
- Bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of any refunds
- Valid photo ID for yourself (and spouse if filing jointly)
- Social Security cards for all persons on your tax return
- Prior year tax returns
- Any IRS letters or notices received
Organizing these documents ahead of time ensures smooth preparation of your 2024 tax return.
Knowing where you can get help filing your taxes is critical to accurate and timely submission. This step-by-step guide reviewed using IRS Free File software if you qualify, locating nearby VITA or AARP Tax-Aide sites for free tax preparation services, identifying paid tax preparers, and gathering the needed documents.
Utilizing the right tax filing location and resources helps avoid errors, prevents delays in receiving refunds, and reduces the chance of IRS penalties or additional taxes owed.
With the proper planning using this guide, you can have confidence your 2024 tax return will be filed correctly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How early can I file my 2024 taxes?
A: The 2024 tax filing season officially opens on January 23, 2024. However, you can begin preparing your documents and tax information now to submit as early as possible once filing opens.
Q: Can I file previous years’ tax returns?
A: Yes, you can file previous tax returns if you failed to file taxes in prior years. There is typically a 3 year limit on claiming refunds owed to you.
Q: What identification do I need to provide when filing taxes?
A: You will need valid government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport for yourself and your spouse if filing jointly. You’ll also need Social Security cards for all persons claimed on your tax return.
Q: Can I file my taxes for free online?
A: Yes, if your 2022 adjusted gross income was $73,000 or less, you qualify to file your federal tax return for free using IRS Free File software. Some states also offer free filing.
Q: How early should I file to get my refund fastest?
A: Filing your tax return early, accurately, and electronically is the best way to get refunds quickly. The IRS issues most refunds within 21 calendar days of receiving e-filed returns with no issues.