We’re nearing the end of winter and the beginning of spring, and yes that means warmer weather and blooming flowers, but it also means it’s time to file your taxes. Your gut reaction might be to groan, but there’s good news: Tax season doesn’t need to be as expensive — or painful — as you might think.
Roughly two-thirds of Americans who pay taxes are eligible for free tax filing on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and even people who may not meet its requirements may be able to finagle free tax filing anyway. Here’s what you need to know about your three major options this year.
Use IRS Free File.
If you had a gross adjusted income of under $72,000 in 2020, you most likely qualify for free federal tax filing on behalf of the IRS. Depending on your particular circumstances and where you live, you may also qualify for free state tax filing, too.
To find out if you’re eligible, use the department’s lookup tool and enter a few key pieces of information, like your filing status, age, income, and more. If it’s a fit, you then have access to free filing tools from the IRS and a number of tax preparation companies, including TaxAct and H&R Block.
Try the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) are two programs that may be able to offer additional help to those who need it when filing their taxes.
VITA is open to people who make less than $57,000 per year, people with disabilities, and people with limited English-speaking abilities. Meanwhile, TCE is generally open to adults over 60, but it specializes more in taxes issues regarding pensions or retirement.
If you qualify, you can learn more about where to get help from either of these programs. Note that there may be some changes to how they operate in the pandemic given that they were previously in-person services.
See if you qualify for free filing through commercial software.
On top of the programs offered by the IRS, many tax filing companies offer free services for what’s referred to as a “simple return,” meaning that you’re taking what’s called the standard deduction, you’re only a W-2 employee or earning unemployment income, and you have few to no investments. CreditKarma Tax, H&R Block, and TurboTax all offer these types of free services for people filing simple returns.
Tax season often isn’t people’s favorite time of the year, but with these easy tools, you’ll be done (without paying any extra fees!) in a snap.