Taxes can be confusing, especially because the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 changed a lot of the rules for 2018 tax returns. There are some things you can no longer deduct, a new standard deduction and more. It’s no wonder that even seasoned DIY tax preparers sometimes need a little help this tax season.
Fortunately, free tax advice and free tax services are available to many taxpayers. Learn how to file taxes more easily using the options available to you.
How to Get Free Tax Help
Free tax help programs are offered to people based on economic need, age and other factors. Some tax preparation service providers also offer free tools to anyone, not just people who are qualified for free tax assistance.
Here are nine different ways to get free tax prep help:
1. IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) provides free tax help to people who earn $55,000 or less per year, as well as people with disabilities and people who don’t speak fluent English. IRS-certified volunteers run the program and provide help — including free 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 locator tool on the IRS website.
2. IRS Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program
If you are age 60 or older, you can get tax help from Tax Counseling for the Elderly, which is another IRS program. TCE provides free tax preparation for seniors as well as free tax advice about issues pertaining to retirees.
Many of the IRS-certified volunteers who run this program represent nonprofit agencies and organizations funded by IRS grants. In addition, many TCE sites are run by the AARP Foundation’s Tax Aide program.
To find a TCE volunteer near you, call 888-227-7669 or use the AARP locator tool.
3. IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service
You might also qualify for free assistance through the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service, which is an independent organization within the IRS that can provide support if your tax problems aren’t getting resolved through typical IRS procedures. The Taxpayer Advocate Service is available to individuals as well as businesses, and offices are located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Once an advocate is assigned to you, they can walk you through a range of tax-related problems that you might be experiencing.
You can find the contact information of the closest Taxpayer Advocate Service office by visiting the IRS website.
4. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide
The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program offers free tax return preparation services for low- to moderate-income individuals — particularly those who are older than age 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 filing your 2018 tax return, consider using Free File, a combined effort of the IRS and the Free File Alliance comprised of tax software companies. About 100 million taxpayers — more than 70 percent of all taxpayers — are eligible for the program, which offers free assistance in preparing tax returns, ensuring your calculations are accurate and even filing your taxes for free.
Taxpayers seeking help can access Free File at the IRS website.
6. Taxpayer Assistance Centers
Sometimes you need to talk to someone face to face and have them look at your documents to make sure you’re completing the right forms correctly. You can bring your documents to an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center to get in-person help by appointment.
The IRS operates Taxpayer Assistance Centers in every state, and you can find the one closest to you at the Taxpayer Assistance Center office locator on the IRS website.
7. TurboTax AnswerXchange
For answers to your tax questions, try asking the TurboTax AnswerXchange. You can connect with specialists, experts and existing users who help take the mystery out of preparing a return. Post a question on the site to get answers and tax tips, and read other 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 (LITC) program is a federal matching grant program. It gives money to legal services organizations — such as law and business schools — to provide income tax help to low-income individuals or people who speak English as a second language.
The program assists people with IRS issues — including appeals, collections, litigation and audits — by providing representation and helping them resolve any problems with their accounts. In addition, the clinic helps educate individuals about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to taxes and advocacy services.
9. Military OneSource’s MilTax Program
MilTax is a program from Military OneSource that 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 to them.
You can call a trained MilTax consultant seven days a week during tax season — at 800-342-9647, or you can chat live on the MilTax website. MilTax is part of the VITA program, which means you also can get in-person help on base or somewhere nearby.
How to Avoid Free Tax Service Scams
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. Also, ask friends and family for recommendations. Finally, always check with the Better Business Bureau to see how the tax service company is rated.
More on Filing Your Taxes
- The Complete Guide to Filling Out Your W-4 Form
- TurboTax Free and Paid Options Review: File Accurate Returns Quickly
- What to Do If You Lost Your W-2
- Watch: How to Legally Cheat Your Tax Bracket
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Karen Doyle contributed to the reporting for this article.