This post is brought to you by The TaxGirl herself, Kelly Phillips Erb. She is now happily ensconced in her new gig writing for Bloomberg Tax but she’s also still tweeting. A few days ago she tweeted out a list of resources for taxpayers who may not be able to pay for professional tax return preparation but who still need help. With her permission, I’m going to summarize her list here:
- If you are a military family you can use MilTax from Military One Source. This service allows free e-filing of federal and up to three state tax returns. The site is funded by the Department of Defense.
- The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is available to taxpayers who meet the income qualifications. VITA sites can be especially helpful for seniors, limited English speakers, the disabled, and households earning less than $57,000 per year.
- The IRS Tax Counselling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free help to seniors with a focus on retirement issues. Most TCE sites are operated by the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program. Call 888.227.7669 or visit for an appointment or more information. taxaide.aarpfoundation.org
If you want to do your own taxes, you can use the IRS Free File Program. I’m going to recommend not using a search engine to find the program. Search engines will typically return paid advertising based results and often you will end up on a site that isn’t actually free or that will try to upsell you. If you want to use free file, I recommend starting at the source, the IRS Free File web page. Depending on your income, Free File offers you a guided program with some state filing included (incomes under $72,000 per year) or fillable tax forms with no state filing. Update: My friend, Fred Stein (CPA-owner of BQ Tax & Accounting Services) tells me that if you need free state filing it is best to start at your state taxing authority’s website and access free file from there. In prior years if you needed free state tax filing but started at the IRS site, the state filing wasn’t included. So better safe than sorry!
Some Low Income Tax Clinics (LITCs) may offer return preparation services or, if you meet certain income and/or situation specific requirements, provide you with a referral to someone on their pro bono panel who will help you for free or at a significant discount. The services LITCs provide depend on their funding and on their location so this may not be an option for all low-income taxpayers.
Taxpayers seeking free or discounted help with their taxes need to be aware that many tax clinics are still operating under Covid-related restrictions and getting an appointment for in-person assistance may be difficult or impossible.
Finally if you are looking for help preparing your taxes please remember that, while you do have some choices, please don’t expect small firms to discount as if they were federally funded and volunteer staffed. We aren’t.