Free Tax Preparation Services for Low Income
The information in this article is current as of February 25, 2022.
Whether you’re looking for free IRS tax filing software or you prefer someone to assist you with preparing your taxes, this guide covers everything you need to know.
Free IRS tax return or tax filing preparation services are available for low-income individuals, seniors over 60, and members of the military who need help.
This blog article will cover nonprofit and government-sponsored programs offering free help with tax filing, such as:
- Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
- IRS Free File
- AARP Foundation Tax-Aide
What Is Tax Day?
Benjamin Franklin summed it up nicely way back in 1789. “… in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” There’s no way around it. Filing and paying taxes is part of life, but there is help. Stay tuned for more on that! In America, Tax Day, the day on which individual income tax returns are due to the federal government, arrives every year.
When Is Tax Day?
Since 1955, Tax Day is usually on or soon after April 15. However, the date can be delayed if it occurs on a Saturday, Sunday, or public holiday such as Emancipation Day. In addition, natural disasters or public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic can also change or delay the date.
Where Can I Get Free Tax Return or Filing Prep Help?
Knowing you have many options when seeking free help filing your IRS tax returns is comforting. These free services are detailed herein cities and states throughout the U.S. Free filing prep help can be found at your local community centers, libraries, schools, and places of worship, to name a few.
Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)
The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program provides no-cost, free tax help for folks 60 or older. The program specializes in assisting seniors with questions about retirement-related issues and pensions.
How It Works: Federal IRS grants are given to eligible organizations such as AARP, Catholic Charities, Goodwill Industries, and United Way. These organizations then provide tax assistance to elderly taxpayers.
Trained volunteers perform nearly all free tax services. Funding from the IRS grants reimburses volunteers for certain expenses like their meals and transportation.
Tax return preparation assistance is available to elderly taxpayers yearly from January 1 to April 15.
Know Before You Go: It’s essential to ensure you don’t forget any essential documents. Check here to see what you should bring.
Where and How to Get Help: This locator tool can help you find free TCE tax help near you.
For Questions or Additional Help: Call 888-227-7669 should you need more info.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
The IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has been around for more than 50 years. This program, known as VITA, offers free basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals.
VITA site locations offer free tax assistance to those who need help preparing their tax returns.
Qualifications for this government service include:
- People who make $58,000 or less
- People with disabilities
- Taxpayers with limited English-speaking ability
- Seniors 60 years of age and older
How It Works: The IRS manages the VITA program. The sites are operated by IRS partners and staffed by area volunteers who have undergone rigorous training and testing to meet IRS standards. Many of the IRS-certified volunteers providing the tax counseling are retired. These volunteers are associated with nonprofit organizations that receive grants from the IRS. They can also assist taxpayers with the preparation of Facilitated Self-Assistance returns.
Know Before You Go: Make sure you have all the required information and documents for the VITA volunteers. Click here to see what to bring with you. Volunteers can’t help preparing complicated returns such as Schedule Cs and Schedule Ds, etc.
Where to Get Help: Free VITA tax return sites can usually be found at schools, community centers, libraries, shopping malls, and other locations across the country. To locate the nearest VITA site near you, use the VITA Locator Tool.
For Questions: Call 800-906-9887
IRS Free File
The IRS Free File Program is a partnership between the IRS and tax preparation and filing software industry leaders that provide recognized tax filing tools for free. As a result, taxpayers can prepare and file their federal income tax online for free or at an IRS partner site.
Guided Tax Preparation offers free online tax prep and filing at an IRS partner site to taxpayers whose adjusted gross income (AGI) is $73,000 or less.
Free File Fillable Forms are electronic versions of the 1040 forms you can complete online for free. This option is available at no cost for taxpayers whose income (AGI) is $73,000 or more. Though free, this service means you need to understand how to file your taxes on your own.
How It Works:
- To start, visit IRS.gov.
- Choose an option: IRS Free File, guided tax preparation, or Free File Fillable Forms.
- You’ll then be directed to the IRS partner’s website to create a new account, or if you have used the service before, you’ll be asked to log in to an existing account.
- Prepare and efile your federal tax return.
- Receive an email when the IRS has accepted your return.
This free tax service includes tax prep and e-filing software and personalized support designed to address situations specific to military life such as deployments, combat and training pay, housing and rentals, multistate filings, living OCONUS, and more.
How It Works: Powered by an industry-leading tax service provider, MilTax preparation and e-filing software is available from mid-January through mid-October.
This self-paced tax software guides you through a series of questions and assists you with electronically filing your federal return and up to three state tax forms. Calculations are guaranteed 100% accurate.
Know Before You Go: As with all online tax preparation, make sure you have all the paperwork, forms, and documentation you need to get started.
Where to Get Help: Visit militaryonesource.mil
For Questions: Get answers by phone at 800-342-9647, via live chat, or find a location here.
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers tax assistance both in-person and virtual or online free of charge. This service is free to anyone who needs help. However, taxpayers over 50 with low to moderate incomes are strongly encouraged to use this free tax filing service.
Depending on your situation, you may be able to take care of your tax filing in one or two visits. In some cases, your tax prep can be handled entirely online.
Prefer doing most of the tax return prep work yourself? If so, you can access free software through AARP here. However, this software is only suitable for the current year. In addition, it is limited to taxpayers with an AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) of $73,000 or less.
How It Works: Tax-Aide volunteers are available nationwide. They are trained and IRS-certified every year to ensure they understand the latest changes and additions to the tax code.
Know Before You Go: Typically, the Tax-Aide service runs from February 1 to April 18.
Where to Get Help: Use the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Locator here.
For Questions: You can email AARP with questions about Tax-Aide at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them toll-free at 888-OUR-AARP (888-687-2277).
Your Choice of Free Tax Filing Preparation Services
Whether you use TCE, VITA, IRS Free File, MilTax, or AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, free IRS tax return filing services are available to assist you.