Taxes were already complicated before the pandemic. Now with stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, or remote work, they can feel even more convoluted. Luckily, these ten places offer free tax help to make preparing your taxes a little easier.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
VITA is an IRS-operated volunteer program. All staff members undergo specialized training to assist you with fundamental income tax preparation better.
Service is available to:
- Those with an annual income less than $54,000
- Individuals with disabilities
- Non-native English-speaking taxpayers
However, VITA programs are harder to locate than in previous years. “Sadly, because of COVID, many sites are likely closed. My town’s senior center and the library usually have VITA programs, but both are closed this year,” Beth Logan, enrolled agent and owner of Kozlog Tax Advisors, told US News My Money.
Tax Counseling For The Elderly Program
TCE is one more service under the IRS available to those 60 and older. Generally, TCE programs are available through nonprofits, local colleges, community centers, or libraries. Visit https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/ to find your nearest TCE and VITA programs.
But TCE goes beyond tax preparation. “In addition to offering help with tax prep, TCE also answers questions about pensions and other issues specific to retired people,” Charles Corsello, an enrolled agent and TaxDebtHelp.com co-founder, explained.
IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers
You can call and schedule an appointment with your nearest IRS office to receive support with any tax questions that can’t be answered during a phone call. Or, you can visit the IRS website and find your local office. If you make an in-person visit, the IRS requests that you wear a mask and practice social distancing.
When you go, make sure you bring:
- W-2s or 1099 forms
- Information to claim tax credits and deductions
- Proof of identity
During your appointment, you can find help preparing a range of forms for unemployment benefits, IRA distributions, and more. Keep in mind that you may not get help if your tax circumstances are complex or if you require assistance filling out forms for nondeductible IRAs and premium tax credits.
Taxpayer Advocate Service
TAS is an autonomous organization under the IRS that can help you if you can’t afford your tax bill because of financial difficulties. This service is ideal for those facing issues with tax levies or liens.
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program
This program was established more than 50 years ago and provides complimentary tax-preparation assistance until the April 15 deadline. It is available to everyone, though AARP prioritizes taxpayers 50 and older and have limited income.
Visit the AARP website or call 1-888-227-7669 to find a program near you.
If you, your spouse, parent, or guardian are in the military or are a veteran, you could qualify for the MilTax program, which provides 24/7 phone support. You can find additional information on the Military OneSource website and book an appointment for this program through your local VITA office.
Online Tax-Filing Platforms
Many online tax services can help you prepare your taxes for free, including:
- Credit Karma Tax
- TaxSlayer Simply Free
- DIY Tax
- H&R Block
In addition, if you earn no more than $66,000, you can use the IRS Free File program. If your income exceeds this amount, you can use Free File Fillable Forms. This complimentary tool works on all devices and guides you through filing your tax return digitally.
Your library offers an abundance of resources — including free tax help. “Many libraries offer resources to help taxpayers prepare their returns and answer questions,” Corsello notes.
But if your local library doesn’t offer those tools, the librarians can likely recommend a local group that might be able to assist.
If all else fails, Logan mentions, “Local libraries usually have forms and instructions in paper form, which can help low-income people.”
If you have a local community center near you, one of the staff members should be able to point you in the right direction if the center itself lacks a program.
Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics
If you still require free tax assistance after submitting your taxes, LITCs can help.
“Low-Income Tax Clinics are sprinkled throughout the US for representation tax issues,” Logan explains. “Those are not tax-preparation issues, but issues that arise after filing, usually when the taxpayer gets a letter from the IRS. There is some federal funding for these. They are often run by universities with tax law programs, and the law students do much of the work.”
Logan adds that several LITCs also help with state taxes, noting that in many cases, a LITC will only assist with federal taxes. When this happens, she tells US News My Money that “The taxpayer is often stuck with state tax issues that they can’t resolve.”
If you need free support when filing your taxes this year, one of these programs should be able to help. However, due to the pandemic, try to avoid filing at the last minute if possible.
- Williams, Geoff. “10 Places to Find Free Tax Advice.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 27 Jan. 2021, money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/taxes/articles/how-to-find-tax-help-for-free.