The public can receive free tax preparation assistance and tax dispute resolution services from a range of charitable organizations, academic institutions, and even neighborhood Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offices. It only requires understanding where to seek, which programs you are eligible for, and pinpointing your unique needs.
The Program for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
Volunteers who have received IRS certification work for VITA to prepare taxes for taxpayers who make $58,000 or less as of January 2022. Additionally qualified taxpayers include individuals who are 60 years of age or older, have a disability, or have low English proficiency.
VITA offers community locations in malls, schools, and libraries and is partially sponsored by funds from the IRS. The majority are accessible from February to April, however some are open until the deadline for submitting extensions in October.
In most regions, VITA will also assist you with filing your tax return electronically. By using the online IRS search engine or by calling toll-free 800-906-9887, you can locate a nearby VITA site.
Advice on Taxes for Seniors
An additional IRS grant-funded program, Tax Counseling for the Elderly, collaborates with regional nonprofit organizations to train volunteers to assist senior individuals in filing their taxes. The program includes both tax preparation and counseling services, and eligibility requirements include being 60 years of age or older. Call 888-227-7669 toll-free to discover a Tax Counseling for the Elderly location.
Tax-Aide by AARP
For persons with low to moderate incomes, AARP offers free tax preparation services. The VITA and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs operate fairly similarly to how these services are run. By dialing the toll-free number 888-687-2277 or going to the AARP Tax-Aide website, you can look up nearby locations by entering your zip code
The Military Tax Council
The IRS-funded VITA program includes the Armed Forces Tax Council. It offers military people free assistance with tax preparation. Volunteers receive specialized training on the kinds of tax problems that members of the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard frequently run into.
If you wish to prepare your own taxes, Military One Source also offers free access to H&R Block At Home. Visit its website for more information, or contact the Military OneSource Tax Hotline at 800-730-3802.3 to speak with a tax advisor for free.
Before going to any of these free tax preparation websites, you might want to give them a call to make an appointment.
Clinics for Low-Income Taxpayers
The Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic Program (LITC) assists taxpayers who require assistance in resolving tax issues, such as income tax audits and collection disputes over unpaid tax bills, for free or at a minimal cost. If a person needs to appear in tax court to address a dispute, they can offer legal representation. Additionally, support is offered by the clinics to those whose first language is not English.
LITCs are run by nonprofit organizations, colleges, and law schools. They are overseen by the Taxpayer Advocate Service and get some support from the IRS (TAS). An IRS directory of tax clinics is available. At the bottom of the website is a search engine.
Although the program is intended to assist individuals and families whose incomes do not exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty level, each clinic will ultimately decide if a taxpayer satisfies their requirements.
Centers for Taxpayer Assistance
Although they cannot assist with tax return preparation, Taxpayer Assistance Centers can set up payment plans, explain IRS correspondence, and aid with other tax-related issues. Before filing, they’ll check your paperwork to make sure everything is in order.
Unfortunately, the majority of these centers are found in bigger cities. There may not be one conveniently close by. Make an appointment in advance if you need to.
Service for Taxpayer Advocates
In the event that you are unable to address your tax issues by speaking with the IRS directly, the Taxpayer Advocate Service can assist you. It’s possible that you don’t understand an IRS notice you received or that you owe taxes you are unable to pay. If you have a more serious issue, they can inform you of your rights.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service answers to Congress directly. It is a separate entity from the IRS. Contact them at 877-777-4778 toll-free.
Free IRS File
You might not need a professional to prepare your return because you have no issues with your taxes, but you also don’t want to spend a lot of money on tax preparation software. If your annual income in 2021 was $73,000 or less, IRS Free File has you covered. The IRS and the Free File Service, a collection of software vendors who give free tax return preparation software to those who qualify, have partnered to create the program.
No matter your yearly income, you can still acquire free tax forms from the Free File website, but you’ll have to fill them out yourself.
Things to Bring to Your Appointment
There are specific documents you will need if you choose to go seek free tax filing assistance. Make sure to include your tax records and any other necessary information, such as:
- For the tax year, all of your W-2 and 1099 forms
- a copy of the tax return from the previous year
- Social Security card
- a driver’s license or different photo identification
- Dates of birth and Social Security numbers of you, your spouse, and any dependents
If you want the IRS to directly deposit any return you might be eligible for, you must provide the IRS with your bank account’s routing and account number.
If your insurer hasn’t given you a Form 1095 that records this data, health insurance statements for coverage you paid for
If you have kids who go to daycare or stay with a babysitter while you and your spouse work, make sure to take their tax ID number as well as receipts for the money you paid. The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit may apply to you.
Be aware that the volunteers at the majority of these locations will require you to complete Form 13614-C, a two-page questionnaire, in advance. Form 13614-C can be downloaded from the IRS website.