Yes, it’s that time of year again – tax time! If money is tight, you may be hoping for a refund. But, like many people, you probably have to use part of your refund to pay for having your taxes done.
But, what if you didn’t have to pay a tax preparer? If you have a simple tax return, and you earned less than $50,000, you can qualify for FREE tax preparation with VITA (more on VITA below). Or, check out AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, which has different guidelines by state.
These are the two safest and most reliable options for no-cost income tax preparation (that I know of.)
I know there are some other companies that promise free preparation, but watch for these restrictions:
- Do they offer to do your federal return for free, but charge you for the state return?
- Do they restrict your appointment to the first two weeks of February? (I’m really organized, but even I have to wait for W-2’s and 1099’s, etc.)
With VITA and AARP, you don’t have to rush and they do both Federal and State (if local rules allow).
Find out if you qualify for VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance)
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) has volunteers trained by the IRS to do tax preparation for people who are low to moderate income (families earning less than $50,000.) There are locations in every state, typically at public buildings (like libraries, schools, or town government offices). All have different days and hours. Find the location that meets your schedule by visiting the IRS website or calling (800) 906-9887.
Find out if you qualify for AARP Foundation Tax-Aide
AARP also offers tax preparation services under their program AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. The program gives special attention to those over 60 years of age. There are eligibility requirements that must be met to take advantage of this service. For more information go to AARP.org
These programs are both designed for those with relatively simple tax returns. People who have more complicated returns that include rental property, buying and selling of investments, or businesses are usually not eligible. Check with each organization for locations and eligibility requirements.
Remember: this year April 15 falls on a Sunday and Monday is a Federal holiday, so you have two extra days to file your taxes!