Just because you have to file your taxes doesn't mean you have to go out and buy expensive software, pay a professional, or even do it yourself.
Taxes can be complicated, and the slightest oversight could mean leaving major money on the table. Good reasons to hire professional help. But if you’re lucky, that help won’t cost you a dime.
If you made less than $42,000 last year, you could qualify for free help. It’s called VITA: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. And there are literally thousands of VITA sites in churches, on military bases… even at some IRS offices.
If you’re over 60 with low to mid-income, AARP also has thousands of places you can go for free preparation and filing.
And even if you’re too young or make too much, you might still qualify for free electronic filing: 75% of Americans, 90 million people, do. The cutoff for that is income less than 56,000. So if you made less, you can file electronically free. Check it out by going to irs.gov and clicking on free file.
And here’s something new for 2008: if you’re willing to file with online forms, you can fill them out online and file electronically for free: no matter what your income.
So up to $42,000: free preparation. Up to $56,000: free file. Do it yourself online? Free file no matter your income. And for everyone else: free help. Either in person at the IRS office, or on one of their toll-free numbers.
But here’s a warning… just because you qualify for free help doesn’t mean it’s automatic. Walk into some tax preparation services and they’ll be happy to take your money, even though they know you could be getting free help. So know if you qualify and don’t tax your budget!