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Free tax help

 

Return preparation

Software

IRS representation

IRS advocacy

IRS website

Free return preparation

 

IRS-certified volunteers prepare and file tax returns free of charge (VITA/TCE program). To qualify, your income must be low or moderate, or you must be over a certain age. Please check with your local VITA/TCE site. To find a site near you, visit https://www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-you-by-volunteers.

 

If you qualify for the program, we recommend that you use it. In 2016, the IRS tested 299 returns prepared by the VITA/TCE volunteers and found 286 of these returns to be correct. That's a very good result by tax standards.

Free software

 

If you earn less than $66,000, you qualify for free software that you can use to prepare and file your tax return on your own. For more information, visit https://www.irs.gov/uac/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free or http://taxprephelp.org/

If you earn more than $66,000, you may be able to use the IRS "Fillable Forms" and file electronically for free. Visit https://www.freefilefillableforms.com. The forms are the electronic equivalent of the paper forms with the benefit of automated calculations. We believe that this option is suitable for taxpayers who have easy returns or really know their way around taxes. Otherwise, we recommend that you purchase one of the commercial software packages.

 

Free IRS representation

 Low Income Tax Clinics (LITCs) are staffed by law students and volunteer attorneys who provide free legal advice if you have a dispute or a collection issue with the IRS. There are income limits: about $30,000 for a single person with increases for each additional family member. To find a clinic near you, check http://taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/about/litc. 

IRS advocacy

 

  IRS agents are conscientious public servants. Most of the time, you can present your case and get a fair hearing. If you have a different experience, you may contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). The TAS is an independent organization within the IRS that advocates on behalf of taxpayers. To learn more, visit: https://www.irs.gov/advocate  

IRS website

 

The IRS website has a lot of helpful information. The IRS does a good job presenting information in an easy-to-read format. You can order free IRS publications by mail at https://www.irs.gov/uac/forms-and-publications-by-u-s-mail

 

My1040 links to IRS publications that provide guidance for the expenses that you are tracking. If you need more information, visit the IRS website and type your query in the search box at the top of the home page. For example, search for "The Sharing Economy Tax Center" if you freelance in the sharing economy.

There are other websites that provide tax information. We prefer the IRS website. The IRS website is comprehensive. Also, if you are audited, it is helpful to point to an IRS publication as the support for your position. 

A word of caution... The IRS website may over-simplify the tax laws. For complex cases, an experienced tax attorney or CPA can provide more precise advice.