In the United States, free tax return preparation is available, usually for people who fit certain requirements such as income or age criteria. These services are often available at community locations such as libraries, and even online through the IRS e-file program.
One way to get free tax return preparation is via the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), offered by the IRS. In this program, volunteers provide free tax advice and help filing tax returns to people who fit certain criteria — usually, individuals and families who make less than a certain amount per year. In 2009, people whose household income was $42,000 US Dollars (USD) or less per year qualified for the program.
Usually, volunteers with the VITA program can be found at various locations in the community. Public libraries, local schools, and neighborhood or community centers are just a few of the places where you can find volunteers offering free tax return preparation.
Another program that provides free tax return preparation is called Tax Counseling for the Elderly. This program is designed to help seniors — defined as anyone who is age 60 or older — with filing taxes. Typically the people who provide this service are trained volunteers from special non-profit organizations; these organizations often are funded with grants received from the IRS.
Some taxpayers may also need help filing their taxes if English is not their first language. Often the programs listed above have bilingual tax advisors to help these people. Special programs also may exist in your area, offering free tax return preparation to those whose native language is Spanish or another foreign language.
Free tax return preparation can also be found online, via the IRS e-file program. This program essentially just gets taxpayers in touch with companies offering free tax preparation online. The IRS website lists all participating tax advisors, as well as the terms the taxpayer must meet in order to qualify for free tax preparation. Often the programs are similar to those already mentioned, for the elderly and for people who make less than a certain amount per year.
To use IRS e-file, the taxpayer can search for programs meeting their criteria. In order to qualify for the free tax return preparation, the user must click through to the service provider’s website from the e-file website. Some of the tax advisors listed on the e-file site also offer free tax preparation at their physical location.