File your income taxes for free.
Programs like the IRS sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, and the AARP Tax-Aide help lower income families as well as the elderly file their income tax returns for free. Some of the assistance is even for so called “moderate income” families as the guidelines are fairly generous. There are also specialists who work with the client and help them prepare their taxes for free; this is in addition to the filing services.
As part of these programs, they are given access to a variety of support services, ranging from tips on applying for income tax credits as well as deductions, free e-filing, information on government benefits and more. Many of the programs are provided by highly trained volunteers, who are certified by the IRS. Hundreds of thousands of low to middle income families take advantage of this service each year.
Learn more about free tax returns and how to apply
There are a few different options that people have. They include the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program which offers free tax help and will prepare state or federal returns for people who earn less than about $60,000 per year (depending on family size). Another option is the Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program (TCE), which offers information as well as advice. As part of this, highly trained staff will also prepare returns to taxpayers who are 60 and older. The last option is to of course do it yourself (DIY), and the IRS offers software for that.
To apply for free tax returns from volunteers and other organizations it is recommended that taxpayers call their local community action agency. These non-profit organizations may sometimes coordinate the programs in your local community. If they are not the lead agency, they will usually be able to direct you to who to contact for more information. As the fact is that the IRS supported income tax filing programs may be offered by thousands of different charities, including faith based groups, churches, private businesses, and other non-profits.
Examples of the programs
Trying to navigate the income tax system can be intimidating for many people. The process is even becoming more complicated with the ever changing rules and regulations to both state and federal income tax rates and terms. Many people, no matter their educational level or how much financial literacy they have, are wary of doing their own taxes.
Not only that, if you hire someone to do them for you, some companies may send you a bill for $100 or more to prepare your taxes. Other free filing services may not be very straightforward to use or understand. The income tax code in the United States extremely complicated, and the rules and regulations itself is thousands of pages long.
But there are options that can help. These services, such as VITA, use highly trained staff. Not only that, on the other hand, it is a free program. There is also TCE for senior citizens. The government supported programs will help those consumers who need it most keep that money.
Both of the free assistance programs are volunteer-driven, and it also aims to alert people to all available tax credits as well as deductions that they may not have previously known about or filed for. Since the code is constantly evolving, and new credits as well as deductions are always being added at the federal government level, it can be all but impossible to keep up.
VITA volunteers save hundreds of thousands of families millions of dollars per year in total. TCE does the same for senior citizens. There are also hundreds of thousands of tax returns filed by AARP volunteer. The service is available to many people and they may not even realize they qualify as the income crtieria are very “generous”. Across the nation hundreds of thousands of individuals benefit from this free income tax filing program.
The IRS also has free income tax preparation and filing software. This is both for federal and state return. The income guidelines are also generally higher, and the total household income can be under the $70,000 range. This option is generally best for a “simple” return, such as one without investments, deductions, etc.
As noted, to learn more on these free federal and state programs, get details below. There are multiple ways to get help.
Volunteers are needed for the free income tax filing programs
While the programs are effective, more volunteers are needed to help do the income tax filing and help people prepare returns. The non-profits that run these also encourage bilingual people to apply. If they enjoy working with numbers and people, it is very gratifying way to give back to those that are less fortunate. It can also provide some individuals much needed work experience.
When volunteering for one of these government sponsored services, maybe the best thing is that you do not need any experience with taxes because the IRS will provide free training starting in December or January of each year. So individuals who volunteer can not only give back to the community by helping others, but they will also gain a new skill and certification from the government, which can maybe help people land a full time job in the income tax field.