Finance & Insurance

File Your Taxes for Free

Did you know that you can get free assistance filing your taxes? There are tons of programs out there to help even middle income families get certified assistance when they file their returns, and depending on your situation, you may be able to get free help regardless of your income level.

Free In-Person Tax Assistance

The IRS provides free tax, in-person tax assistance through the VITA program. This program is run entirely by volunteers who receive training, and must get program certified before sitting to help. A volunteer with advanced certification double checks every tax return before e-filing your return.

To be eligible for this program, you must have an AGI of under $54,000 for the 2015 tax year. Certain criteria, such as geographical location, type of military pay if any, and self-employment, can make the income limits lower, though, so be sure to call 2-1-1 in your area to see if you qualify.

Free Online Tax Software

If your 2015 AGI is under $62,000, you qualify for the IRS’s Free File program, where they have partnered with several tax software companies to bring their product to the masses for free. Regardless of how complex your return is, as long as you fall under the income limits you qualify. You will want to use this IRS tool to help you decide which software is best for your situation, as certain partners will only work with low-income households, and not all software is compatible with every state return.

Free Tax Software for Simple Returns

Regardless of your income level, many tax software providers will allow you to file your federal return free of charge if you have a simple return. What does a simple return look like? For most programs, it looks something like this:

  • You don’t own your own business.
  • You aren’t self-employed.
  • You don’t own rental property.
  • You haven’t sold stocks in the most recent tax year.

You  may or may not have a family. It’s likely that most, if not all, of your income was reported on W-2s, though you might receive something else in the mail like a 1099-INT for interest on your savings account. You’ll also see Affordable Care Act forms in your mailbox such as the 1095-A, which is for those who purchased plans on the Marketplace. If you meet these criteria, you can file online for free using these big name programs:

Sometimes you’ll also be able to get your state taxes done for free, but certain programs will charge additional fees. For example, eSmart Tax charges an additional $25.95 for state returns, and Tax Slayer charges $23.99, but TaxAct charges absolutely nothing for this service.

Whether you qualify for VITA or Free File, or have a simple return with a higher income, there are ways to save money on filing your taxes this year. You don’t have to go it alone. Just make sure you get it done by the April 18, 2016 deadline, or you could end up paying penalty fees.