It’s that time of year again. Time to file your taxes! But don’t worry; it’s not as bad as it seems. Depending on your financial situation, you may be able to file your federal and state returns for free. All over the U.S., United Way is involved in helping people improve their financial stability by connecting them with financial coaching, financial education, job training and free tax filing.
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs, run by nonprofit organizations, including local United Ways, offer free, in-person tax preparation services by trained volunteers. There are 12,000 VITA sites across the country that serve filers who earn less than $56,000 (most of us, since America's median individual income is $40,100), including people with disabilities and those with limited English. To find a VITA site near you, search through your ZIP code at this IRS site, or contact your local United Way.
- If you’re over the age of 50, you can get one-on-one assistance by IRS-certified volunteers at 5,000 Tax-Aide sites run by AARP. Tax-Aide site are in neighborhood libraries, malls, banks, community centers and senior centers. There’s no fee and no sales pitch for other services. AARP membership is not required. Find a location near you here.
- If you earn less than $69,000, you can file for free through IRS Free File, a partnership between the agency and the Free File Alliance, a group of private preparers. Click here for more details on the program. Each company has a slightly different free offering, so be sure to read the eligibility requirements to make sure you can file your state return free of charge as well. A number of companies will prepare a state return and e-file it at no cost through partnerships with participating state programs.
If your income is more than $69,000, you can use the Free Fillable File Forms, an electronic versions of IRS paper forms. But that doesn’t include the software help available through Free File.
- If you’re in the military, you can use MilTax, a service provided by the Department of Defense that uses a version of H&R Block’s tax software. It’s free to active-duty service members, those in the National Guard or Reserves, and their families. There are no income or tax form restrictions.
- For people who have W-2 income only and a simple return, you can file federal and up to three state returns for free online with MyFreeTaxes®. MyFreeTaxes.com is a partnership between United Way and H&R Block. Simple tax situations covered for free in MyFreeTaxes include: W-2 income; limited interest and dividend income reported on a 1099-INT or 1099-DIV; student education expenses, credits or student loan interest; unemployment income; claiming the standard deduction; EITC; child tax credits; child and dependent care expenses.
You can also take advantage of helpful tools such as calculators, error checkers and online chats, plus a free help line operating daily from 10 am-10 pm ET with IRS-trained staff who speak both English and Spanish.
Unfortunately, MyFreeTaxes no longer provides a free return to filers who are self-employed. Self-employed filers will need to report all of their income and expenses on a Schedule C form, which is not included in the MyFreeTaxes software. If you are self-employed, and wish to use MyFreeTaxes to file your taxes, you will be charged $24.99 for a federal return and $18.50 for each state return (a 50% discount on H&R Block's usual fees).