Tax Hacks 2017: 7 Ways to Get Your Taxes Done for Free


What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

Most of us don't need to fork over hundreds for a tax professional to prepare our taxes. Check out these free alternatives.

The countdown to tax season has begun. If you need help preparing state and federal tax forms, now’s the time to get started.

This year, Tax Day is April 18. (April 15, the traditional date, is a Saturday, and the following Monday is Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in Washington, D.C., so the IRS has given us a few days more than usual to file returns.) The IRS starts accepting paper and electronic tax returns on Jan. 23.

Many Americans will pay someone to help them prepare and file a return. That’s no doubt a worthwhile expense for some. But free is better.

So, if you need help with your taxes — before you go out and throw down several hundred bucks — check out the these alternatives. Many national programs charge nothing to help taxpayers prepare and file their taxes. See if your tax situation and income meet qualifications for these seven free programs:

1. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com

A free IRS-sponsored program, VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), uses trained volunteers to help taxpayers complete basic state and federal tax returns.

Who’s eligible: Generally, taxpayers earning $54,000 a year or less, the elderly, those with disabilities and people with limited English-language abilities, according to the IRS.

Resources:

  • Use this online locator tool to learn when and where to find free VITA tax preparation help (and help from the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program) and whether you’ll need an appointment or can walk in. Or call 800-906-9887.
  • “Self-prep” is an alternative. You prepare and file your own basic state and federal tax forms using web-based tax software and with help from an IRS-certified volunteer. Check online or by phone for locations offering a leg-up for self-preparation.
  • Here is a list of what to take with you.
  • Want to volunteer to help low- and moderate-income families with their taxes? The IRS will train you. Find out more at the IRS website.

2. Tax Counseling for the Elderly

goodluz / Shutterstock.com

IRS-certified volunteers provide free tax preparation to older taxpayers through TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly). Many of the volunteers are retired people associated with nonprofit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.

The IRS says a majority of TCE sites are operated by the AARP Foundation’s Tax Aide program.

Who’s eligible: The IRS says the program “offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older.” (AARP says it offers “individualized tax preparation for low-to moderate-income taxpayers — especially those 50 and older.”)

Resources:

3. IRS Free File

Maxwell LuMaxArt / Shutterstock.com

Free File is a partnership between the IRS and makers of commercial tax-preparation software participating in the IRS’ Free File program. Depending on your level of income, eligible taxpayers get free use of one of the following:

  • Free File, a secure, free-of-charge brand-name tax preparation software that includes help with state returns.
  • Free File fillable forms. State tax preparation is not included.

Who’s eligible: If your income is below $64,000, you qualify to use the Free File tax preparation software.

If your income is above that mark, you are limited to using the free, fillable, electronic versions of paper forms. These forms will do your tax math for you, but you only receive basic guidance.

It is important to note that rules vary among the tax software companies participating in Free File. And, as The Press Enterprise, a news organization serving inland Southern California, points out: “Be aware that those providers offer upsells for a fee including state income tax preparation and insurance.”

Resources:

4. Tax preparation companies’ free services

Brandon Bourdages / Shutterstock.com

Several commercial tax-preparation companies offer free, basic online versions of their software. For instance, TaxAct offers free software that helps you fill out the simplest IRS 1040EZ and 1040A forms using IRS e-file options. TaxAct offers:

  • Step-by-step Q&A that guides you through your return
  • An accuracy check
  • Free help with commonly asked questions
  • Unlimited expert tax advice

The major benefit with any free tax service is in the money you save. However, these services have limitations, which vary by product. Generally:

  • Some don’t offer free help with state returns. (TaxAct does, though.)
  • Free products are for simple tax situations. Before using a free product, check the company’s website to compare the free product with costs and features of the company’s paid products.
  • You could run into hidden fees. For example, you might be charged a convenience fee if you pay your tax bill using a credit card.

5. MyFreeTaxes.com

Alexander Raths / Shutterstock.com

MyFreeTaxes offers free tax help using H&R Block software. Help is free, with state tax forms as well as federal. Support is available in English and Spanish.

Who’s eligible: Individuals or families with a combined household income of $64,000 or less are eligible for free help. Fees apply for filers whose incomes exceed that level.

Resources:

  • Go to the United Way’s MyFreeTaxes.com.
  • Learn more by calling 855-698-9435 (855-MY-TX-HELP).

6. More free IRS resources

Ai825 / Shutterstock.com

You can get other kinds of free help from the IRS.

IRS resources:

7. Money Talks News tax hacks

Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley / Shutterstock.com

Money Talks News has lots of articles on tax topics. Search Money Talks News for “tax hacks.” Or if you’re having trouble with tax debt, visit the Money Talks News Solutions Center.

Do you think paying for tax preparation help is worth it? Share your thoughts in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: 6 Secret Places to Find Coupons for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,059 more deals!