You Can Probably File Your Taxes for Free. Really.
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We know taxes are important. The government needs revenue to do things it does for our society. We want to comply with the law and pay the taxes we owe. Plus, most of us want a refund if we are entitled to it. But having to pay to get that done, when our tax situation seems simple, can be frustrating. Luckily, there are excellent free options!
Some quick links:
- VITA information and VITA locator
- Free File Fillable Forms
- IRS2Go mobile app to check your refund status, make a payment, and find free tax prep assistance
Get Help Filing Your Taxes with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
The IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free basic tax return preparation. But there are qualifications. Generally, VITA is for people earning $57,000 or less, but some locations may go higher. There is also VITA support for people with disabilities and for taxpayers with limited English. Most VITA programs are for older folks, for minorities, and for military service members. If you find one that focuses on a group that you aren’t part of, they may still be able to help you. It doesn’t hurt to ask!
Much like the IRS Free File program, there are typically limitations on the type of forms a VITA location will do for taxpayers. And some locations offer guided tax return assistance, meaning you will be doing the tax return with their help. So, if you want them to do it for you, check ahead of time to see what they offer. You can find a location using your preferred internet search engine, but I prefer the VITA locator tool. Check during tax season (usually January – April) if you can’t find a location close to you outside of tax season.
File Your Taxes the Old-School Way
You can go to IRS.gov, print out the forms, and read the instructions to do your tax returns by hand. The IRS prefers that taxpayers file tax returns electronically and many states encourage taxpayers to file their state taxes electronically. It will generally take you longer to prepare a tax return on paper. Plus, processing a paper tax return will almost always take longer.
Once the 2021 Filing Season is up and running in January, you can also get fillable forms online on the IRS website. Anyone can use these to file electronically. But with this electronic filing, you have to follow the publications and instructions on your own. It doesn’t include software to help with preparing tax returns.
So those are some free tax filing options. Maybe you can’t avoid taxes, but perhaps you can avoid paying to fulfill your tax obligation when your situation isn’t too complicated.
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