It's that time of year again. The holidays are over, winter has set in and your annual tax paperwork has begun arriving. Once you've gathered all the necessary information to file your tax returns, there are several options for filing your taxes for free. These free options are great, particularly if you have a simple return or just need a little extra help in filing your taxes.

SEE: The History Of Taxes In The U.S.

Prepare Them Yourself
Preparing your taxes by yourself is the least expensive method of filing. The IRS has an outstanding website where you can download any form(s) you might need, as well as instruction sheets. The site also has a "fill-in-forms" area if you are filing a simple return like the 1040EZ. While this area does add income, it will not calculate the return for you, nor does it do depreciation - those calculations are up to you.

You can also find most of the commonly used IRS forms at post offices, public libraries, senior centers, banks, credit unions and even some grocery stores.

Free Software and Free File
The IRS has teamed with a number of tax preparing services and software companies to provide free tax service for many Americans. Receiving free service means you must meet certain qualifications to be eligible such as earning less than $57,000 per year, being between the ages of 23 and 55 and other qualifiers. Each tax service has slightly different eligibility requirements. You'll need to visit their websites to see which one(s) might be right for you.

The below list of providers is working in conjunction with the IRS. Many of these providers had already offered free tax preparation for those filing an EZ form. If you need additional forms or are filing a more complex tax return, all of them offer additional services for a fee. (For more help filing your taxes, check out 10 Steps To Tax Preparation.)

In order to take advantage of the free file tax preparation services, you must begin your taxes through the IRS website or you won't receive the free filing services.

H&R Block
Free File IRS

VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance for Americans) is eligible to those who earned less than $50,000 last year. The volunteers are IRS-certified and give free basic tax preparation. VITA sites are usually at community centers, libraries, senior centers and shopping malls. Many VITA locations also offer free eFiling. To find a VITA site go to their website and simply type in your zip code. A list of VITA sites will be provided.

TCE - Tax Counseling for the Elderly
If you are aged 60 or older, you are eligible for assistance with your taxes from TCE. Volunteers who help with this program are well versed in taxes where pensions, social security and retirement issues are a priority. TCE is funded with grant money provided by the IRS. AARP has a link on its website to help find locations for TCE providers in your area.

Tax Aide Counseling
Part of the TCE program is Tax Aide Counseling and is provided to taxpayers over the age of 60 by AARP. The service is aimed at low-income seniors who need tax assistance or counseling. Visit their website at AARP Foundation or call 1-800-829-1040 for more information and locations of these service providers.

Military Assistance
Military One Source is partnered with H&R Block to provide tax filing services for members of the U.S. military. If you are military and interested in this service, you must begin your tax return at the Military One Source/H&R Block at Home site. You can also call a tax consultant at 1-800-342-9647.

The Bottom Line
There are many options available for free tax assistance. Links to all of the providers that have been certified and approved by the IRS can be found on their website. As with any service provider, take the necessary precautions when giving out vital information such as your social security number. Use only those providers approved by the IRS, and if you have any doubt as to the validity of a provider, call the IRS for verification 1-800-876-1715. (For help filing your taxes, read Personal Income Tax Guide.)

Related Articles
  1. Taxes

    Tax Breaks For Volunteering

    Your volunteer ventures could earn you some welcome tax deductions, along with the satisfaction of helping others.
  2. Taxes

    Six Ways Your Tax Preparer Knows You’re Lying

    Cheating on your taxes is asking for trouble. You might get away with it, but you’re playing with fire and likely to get burned.
  3. Taxes

    How & Where to File Form 1040 (And Which Version)

    All taxpayers need to know three things when filing a 1040: which form to use, how to file and where to file. After reading this, you'll know all three.
  4. Savings

    Should You Look at 529 Plans Outside Your State?

    529 savings plans are not restricted by geography. So if your in-state offering has high fees or poor investment choices, look elsewhere.
  5. Taxes

    The Purpose Of The W-9 Form

    The W-9 form provides key data your clients need if you're an independent contractor. Just be sure you're not really an employee who should fill out a W-4.
  6. Taxes

    5 States Without Sales Tax

    Learn about the five states that do not charge sales taxes and about other taxes the states levy instead in order to generate revenue.
  7. Investing Basics

    How to Deduct Your Stock Losses

    Held onto a stock for too long? Selling at a loss is never ideal, but it is possible to minimize the damage. Here's how.
  8. Taxes

    10 Money-Saving Year-End Tax Tips

    Getting organized well before the deadline will curb your frustration and your tax liability.
  9. Taxes

    2016 Tax Code Changes Add Some Wiggle Room

    It's never too early to prepare for tax season. Next year features a host of tax law changes. Check our handy list to see which ones apply to you.
  10. Taxes

    End-of-the-Year Checklist to Save on Income Taxes

    From grouping related expenses to factoring in the alternative minimum tax, here are some things you need to keep in mind when doing tax planning.
  1. Do tax brackets include Social Security?

    A portion of your Social Security benefits may be subject to federal taxation using tax brackets. Your tax bracket is determined ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Are personal loans tax deductible?

    Interest paid on personal loans is not tax deductible. If you take out a loan to buy a car for personal use or to cover other ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Do 401k contributions reduce AGI and/or MAGI?

    Traditional 401(k) contributions effectively reduce both adjusted gross income (AGI) and modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Is homeowners’ insurance tax deductible?

    While your fire or homeowners' insurance premiums may be included in your property payments, they are nondeductible expenses, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Are IRS audits random?

    While the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) conducts some of its tax audits using random selection based on a statistical ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Are mutual fund expense ratios tax deductible?

    The short answer to whether mutual fund expense ratios are tax deductible is "No," but the long answer, however, is more ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center