Do you know you can file income tax for free?

In the post “IRS guidelines to choose a tax preparer”, I have talked about how you can select a good tax preparer for yourself. Usually, a tax preparer charges a fee on the basis of the complexity of your tax return and completeness of your information. Some tax preparers even charge an additional fee when you don’t have proper records of your income and deductions.

Some tax preparers charge a flat fee whereas others charge at an hourly rate for the total time spent for filing your return.

Regardless of how tax preparers charge a fee, isn’t it better to look for alternative options? Isn’t it a wise to find out a way where you can file your income tax returns for free?

Programs that can help you file income tax for free

Here are the few programs that can help you file income tax returns for free.

(i) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program:

This program gives tax assistance to people who earn less than $54,000, have disabilities, and need help in filing their income tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers help people file income tax returns for free with electronic filing to qualified taxpayers.

(ii) Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program

This program offers free tax help to all taxpayers who are above 60 years, specializing in pension and retirement-related questions. Most retired seniors have loads of tax inquiries. The IRS-certified volunteers associated with many non-profit organizations give tax counseling to these people. The volunteers are mostly retired individuals who work with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.

(iii) Use Free file software of the IRS:

If your income is below $66,000, use the free and easy to use the software. Use the free file software lookup tool to know about your free state and federal state return options.

If your income is more than $66,000, then also you can get free file fillable forms. Just read the fillable forms User's Guide & Help page before filing your income tax returns. Make sure you have your 2016 tax return. Remember, the user’s guide gives only basic guidance. So you should know how to do taxes yourself.

Documents you should carry before visiting VITA or TCE location

  • Identification proof
  • Your birth date, your spouse’s and dependent’s birth date
  • Bank interest and dividend statements
  • Social Security cards
  • Wage and earning statements
  • Your last year’s state and federal tax returns
  • Copies from the IRS and state income transcripts
  • If you have Health Insurance Exemption Certificate, submit it
  • Health coverage statements
  • Business Employer Identification Number or the Social Security Number of the daycare provider if you have paid them money
  • Proof of bank account numbers for direct deposits
  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter

Do you want to become an IRS Tax volunteer? If so, then you can get training from sponsoring organizations before you volunteer at a location in your community. You can get training both in the classroom and online. Usually, tax websites are open on nights and weekends. Hours are also flexible. You can easily get a volunteer site near to you. Usually, VITA and TCE sites are located at libraries, shopping malls, schools, community and neighboring centers. For more information, click here or call at 800-906-9887.

Usually, TCE sites are operated by the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program. Call 888-227-7669 to find out the nearest AARP TCE Tax-Aide site.

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