July 15, 2024

Tax Preparation Made Easy: 7 Free Options

Are you ready to file your tax return and anticipate the deposit of your refund? This year, taxpayers can take advantage of free tax filing options, and the IRS is promoting a new era of simple, affordable tax preparation.

Even though people have had the option to utilize online forms to file their taxes for some time, the majority of them still needed assistance navigating the many schedules needed to complete a standard return.

There are now more efficient ways to file your taxes than ever before, and you can do it for free if you use one of the programs listed below or the IRS’s online services.

Discover seven complimentary tax filing choices
Are you looking for a tax filing option that reduces the amount you pay in order to receive a refund or settle any tax debt you may have? Find out what resources are available to help you file your taxes for less or even free.

1. Eligible for a Free IRS File
The IRS, in partnership with the Free File Alliance, may qualify you for IRS Free File if your taxable income or adjusted gross income (AGI) in 2023 is less than $79,000. With this software, you can prepare your federal taxes for free by answering a few easy questions. It’s perfect for people who don’t need a lot of changes, don’t have a business, and don’t itemize their spending.

2. Take advantage of tax software’s free or trial editions
You can discover free solutions from well-known tax firms like H&R Block, Turbo Tax, Tax Slayer, and TaxAct Free if your adjusted gross income is more than $80,000 or if you have additional income sources that make your tax forms more complicated. Similar to IRS Free File, these software choices are ideal for people who have simple tax returns to file, and in some cases, they even offer free state tax filing.

You can usually find Form 1040 and the schedules to claim the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit. Some individuals also hold the belief that they can deduct retirement income, specific dividends or savings account earnings, and interest paid on student loans.

3. Take advantage of VITA, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
A federal grant funds the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which provides free tax preparation services to low- and moderate-income individuals. Through this nationwide community partnership, IRS-certified volunteers offer free, in-person tax assistance at locations such as libraries, schools, and other convenient locations.

If you require assistance with filing your taxes due to limited English proficiency, disability, or an annual income of $64,000 or less, you might qualify. Using the IRS Locate tool, you can find a VITA station close to your location.

4. Take advantage of the Retiree Tax Counseling Program
Similar to Volunteers in Tax Assistance (VITA), Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offers free tax preparation to seniors through a federal grant. A large number of TCE locations work in tandem with the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide initiative.

For simple tax filings, people who get a pension or have concerns about retirement should use TCE programs, like the other free tax filing options we’ve mentioned. On certain AARP sites, tax preparation assistance is available to low- and moderate-income filers aged 50 and up; however, eligibility for TCE services is typically 60 and up.

5. Use MilTax and their software to prepare your taxes
The Department of Defense, in collaboration with Military OneSource, provides the free tax software MilTax for members of the military, their families, and certain veterans to file taxes at no cost to them. Combat pay, deployment, filing in more than one state, and housing and rental issues.

Military OneSource has a phone center where you can get individualized tax assistance whenever you need it, and there are no income requirements to be eligible. The software promises a 100 percent success rate for military personnel who utilize the service, or they will pay you back ten grand.

6. Sign up for the Direct File trial
If you were a resident of Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, or Wyoming in 2023, you might be eligible to file your taxes directly with the IRS and receive a faster refund through the Direct File Program.

For the time being, the Direct File experiment isn’t going to work for you if you have any of the following: income from self-employment or businesses, the requirement to itemize deductions, or plans to claim certain credits, such as the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

7. Submit your tax return to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) immediately
If you aren’t eligible for any of the aforementioned free filing schemes, you can still file electronically with the IRS by visiting their website and filling out one of their free, fillable forms. Unfortunately, you can’t make changes to your taxes from the previous year, and you must start again every year if you want to use the online forms.

You won’t have the option to amend anything after you file your income tax return, so be sure you read the instructions well and understand how to fill out the forms. Additionally, print out a duplicate for your personal files.

These are the frequently asked questions about free tax filing
1. How can I find out what my AGI is?
To make the best free tax filing choice, you must know your taxable income or adjusted gross income. You can easily calculate your adjusted gross income using a straightforward method. Start by adding up all of your taxable income (including salary, dividends, and savings account interest), and then deduct all of your tax credits, deductions, and adjustments.

2. I paid my estimated or self-employment taxes quarterly; is it still necessary to submit a federal tax return?
Yes. You must still submit a tax return to the IRS to verify that you have paid the correct amount of taxes, even if you are self-employed and pay estimated taxes quarterly. Include all of your income sources on your W-2 forms, including payments for goods and services made through online marketplaces such as PayPal and Venmo.

3. Is there a state that provides free software for tax or electronic filing?
There is a federal-state partnership that allows nearly half of the states to offer free state tax return filing. This group of states includes the following: Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

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