Tax season is here, and it’s time to start thinking about filing your taxes. If you’re like most people, the cost of getting your taxes done can be a burden. Fortunately, there are ways to get your taxes done for free.
Benefits of Filing Taxes
Before we dive into how to file your taxes for free, let’s go over the benefits of filing your taxes in general.
- Get a refund: The IRS could owe you money if excess tax was withheld from your paycheck throughout the year.
- Avoid penalties: Failure to file or pay on time leads to interest and penalty charges that add up fast.
- Qualify for government programs: Some government programs require an applicant’s recent tax returns as proof of income or eligibility.
Free Tax-Filing Options
There are several options available out there for free tax-filing:
- IRS Free File: The IRS provides a free online tool that lets taxpayers prepare and e-file their federal return at no cost if their adjusted gross income is $72,000 or less.
- This service lets you choose from multiple reputable online software providers
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA): The VITA program offers free assistance to low-to-moderate-income earners ($57k or less), those with disabilities, non-native English speakers, and other qualifying individuals who need help preparing their own tax returns
- Trained volunteers will provide guidance on eligible credits/deductions based on each filer’s individual situation
- Free File Alliance (FFA): Most states have joined forces with commercial software companies through this alliance so eligible taxpayers can electronically file both state and federal returns simultaneously at no charge
- Each company – including TurboTax maker Intuit Inc., H&R Block Inc., and Liberty Tax Service Inc.– has its own eligibility rules regarding age, income and state residency.
What to Keep in Mind
When opting for free tax-filing options, keep the following considerations in mind:
- Which form is right for you?: Pick a form that meets your individual needs from the four main forms: 1040 EZ, 1040A, 1040-EZ or amended return.
- Pay attention to deadlines: The IRS has postponed the deadline until May 17. However; still make sure you know when your state’s filing date.
- Double-check everything before submitting: Always review your returns carefully before submission to avoid mistakes or missing deductions/credits.
Filing taxes can seem daunting and time-consuming. But by taking advantage of one of these free tax-filing options will not only save you money but also give peace of mind knowing it was done correctly!
Q: Who is eligible to get their taxes done for free?
A: Eligibility for free tax return preparation services depends on various factors such as income level, age, disability status, and military service. Some programs cater specifically to low-income taxpayers or those with disabilities. Check with local nonprofit organizations or the IRS website to find out if you qualify.
Q: Are there any risks involved in getting my taxes done for free?
A: While there may be some risk involved in using a free tax preparation service, especially if it is not a reputable one or if your taxes are complex, most reliable providers take steps to ensure accuracy and security of your information. It’s always important to do your research before choosing a provider and make sure they have good reviews and a strong reputation.
Q: What documents should I bring when getting my taxes prepared for free?
A: The exact documentation required varies depending on the program and your individual circumstances but generally includes items such as W-2 forms from employers, bank statements showing interest earned, receipts for expenses paid (such as medical bills), Social Security cards or other identification documents for yourself and any dependents claimed on your return, etc. Be sure to check what specific documents are required beforehand so that you can come prepared.