Taxes can be confusing, especially if you’re trying to itemize your deductions. Tax forms can be so complicated that even seasoned DIY tax preparers sometimes need a little help.
Fortunately, free tax advice and free tax services are available. Explore your options to learn how to file taxes more easily so you don’t get penalized for filing late.
How to Get Free Tax Help
Free tax help programs are offered to people based on economic need, age and other factors that can qualify people for assistance. Some tax preparation service providers also offer free tools to anyone. Here are nine ways to get free tax help:
1. IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program provides free tax help to people who earn $54,000 or less per year, persons with disabilities, and people who don’t speak fluent English. IRS-certified volunteers run the program and provide free help — including tax preparation and electronic filing — to taxpayers who meet the eligibility requirements and are preparing basic returns.
Look for a VITA site at a neighborhood center, local school, mall or library. You can also call 800-906-9887 to find the VITA site closest to you, or use the VITA locator tool on the IRS website.
2. IRS Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program
You can get IRS tax help from another one of its programs, Tax Counseling for the Elderly. Despite its name, this program provides free tax help for all taxpayers. TCE caters particularly to people who are 60 and older, however, by answering questions about pensions and retirement-related tax issues.
Many of the IRS-certified volunteers who run this program are retired individuals themselves who are affiliated with nonprofit organizations that receive IRS grants. In addition, many TCE sites are run by the AARP Foundation’s Tax Aide program.
To find a TCE near you, call 888-227-7669 or use the VITA/TCE locator tool at the IRS website.
3. IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service
You might also qualify for a free taxpayer advocate through the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service. People often need assistance with tax problems, such as requiring help when filing back taxes or other services. The advocate can provide assistance for a range of tax-related problems you might be experiencing.
4. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide
The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program offers free tax return preparation for low-income individuals — particularly people over 50 — at more than 5,000 locations across the country. Bring all your necessary receipts and tax-related documents to get help filing. To locate an AARP Foundation Tax-Aide site near you, call 888-687-2277 or visit the AARP website.
5. Free File Alliance and IRS Free File
For help with free tax filing for your 2017 return, consider using Free File, a combined effort of the IRS and the Free File Alliance comprised of 12 tax software companies. About 100 million taxpayers — more than 70 percent of all taxpayers — are eligible for the program, which offers free assistance in walking through the steps of preparing a return, ensuring your calculations are accurate, and even providing free tax filing. You can access Free File at the IRS website.
6. H&R Block Calculator
When you need help filing taxes, the H&R Block calculator offers an easy, convenient way to get it. You answer questions about your income and expenses, and then you get a free estimate of how much you’ll owe or how much you’ll get back.
H&R Block offers additional free calculators that can help you understand your refund amount or balance due based on your W-4 and understand how the Affordable Care Act health reform will impact your taxes.
7. TurboTax Live Community
For answers to your tax questions, try asking the TurboTax Live Community. Connect with TurboTax employees and users as well as tax experts who help take the mystery out of preparing a return.
You can post a question on the site to get tax tips and answers to questions, and you can read others’ questions that are similar to yours. Additionally, you can browse or search for popular topics with answers and tips provided.
8. Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics
The low-income taxpayer clinic program is a federal matching grant program. It gives money to legal services organizations — such as law and business schools — to help low-income individuals or people who speak English as a second language with their taxes.
The program provides people with IRS issues — including appeals, collections, litigation and audits — with representation and assists them with fixing any problems with their accounts. In addition, the clinic provides education about rights and responsibilities when it comes to taxes and advocacy services.
9. Military OneSource’s MilTax Program
MilTax is a program available from Military OneSource. It provides military members and their families with free software and free tax preparation support services — and ensures they take all the military tax breaks available.
You can call a trained, MilTax consultant seven days a week from January until April 18 — from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET — at 800-342-9647. MilTax is part of the VITA program, which means you also can get in-person help on base or somewhere nearby.
How to Make Sure Your Free Tax Service Isn’t a Scam
If you’re interested in free assistance from an individual or a program other than the ones on this list, make sure the organization is legitimate. Read reviews online or search for the service provider’s name with the word “scams” after it. Ask friends and family for suggestions. Finally, always check with the Better Business Bureau to see how the tax service company is rated.