It’s tax season! Taxes can be a sore spot for many of us – they’re endlessly complex, expensive, and filing is always a hassle. I’m here today to help you and your family with locating tax preparation services for the lowest cost possible, so you have one less thing to worry about this spring. Let’s get into it!
IRS Free File
IRS Free File is available if you made less than $73,000 in 2021. You qualify for free online tax filing through IRS partners as listed here. The IRS has partnered with many private tax preparation services to provide free online tax services to consumers. Many of these include free state filing as well, though some exceptions do apply. Be sure to check the criteria necessary for each individual filing program.
If you make more than $73,000, the IRS still has an option for you: free fillable tax forms. These forms are a bit more involved and may require you to have a basic understanding of tax filing. However, if your tax situation is similar to what you filed in a previous year, this route may be simple!
If you’re not sure where to start, use the IRS Free File Online Lookup Tool.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is a free, volunteer based program sponsored by the IRS that allows free tax preparation services to individuals making $58,000 or less, have a disability, or have limited English speaking abilities. Some sites offer services for the elderly as well. This is a full service tax preparation, meaning you simply arrive with the necessary forms and your return will be created and filed for you. (Note: be sure to review what you need to bring with you before your appointment!)
One huge advantage of VITA is that volunteers are required to become certified in tax law, something that private firms may not require of their preparers. Additionally, many sites now offer virtual appointments, making it even easier to get your forms filed.
If you are in the military, you likely qualify for tax preparation through MilTax. The Department of Defense offers free e-filing service and is available for all military members and some veterans. Unlike other free tax filing programs, it has no income limits.
Don’t qualify for any of these programs? Be sure to check with your employer to see if they offer special rates, discounts, or even free tax preparation. If not, you may need to find a private tax preparer, but still be aware that there are budget-friendly options. Many private softwares such as TurboTax and H&R Block offer free basic 1040 filings. If you do need to upgrade due to more complex situations and additional forms, you may find better deals through e-filing rather than visiting a shop in person.
Finally, I have to say that if your tax situation is truly complex, there is no substitute for a knowledgeable accountant. Though it is the most costly of these options, it would be unwise to put yourself at risk with the IRS. If you decide to go this route, be sure to look for a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or an Enrolled Agent (EA) to help manage your tax needs.
Don’t forget, the filing deadline for 2022 is Monday, April 18. If you aren’t sure you can finish by then, you can file for an extension, but make sure and pay the actual tax due! An extension doesn’t grant you more time to pay taxes; it only allows you to extend your filing.
We hope this helps with your tax filing needs this year!