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There is Help for Filing Your Taxes from the IRS

There is Help for Filing Your Taxes from the IRS

November 29, 2022

Free File, VITA and TCE are great offerings to know about

Lots of people find free tax preparation an excellent way to file. Here’s what to know before your return comes due in April.

Be Careful of “Free” Offers

Quite a few providers allow you to prepare a simple return for free, but if you use a commercial organization, beware of add-ons that make a supposedly “free” process extremely costly.

Among these:

  • add-on state filing fees, sometimes more pricey than federal preparation fees;
  • high-interest refund anticipation loans; and
  • preparation payment via your refund (another type of refund anticipation loan, with the associated costs).

Organizations offer “free” return filing for a reason: They look like your tax time white knight and, if they talk you into these add-ons, make a mint off it.

IRS Programs

Suppose you do need assistance filing your return. Well, the Internal Revenue Service offers free filing services online if you make $73,000 or less annually through Free File, a service which allows taxpayers to prepare and e-file their federal returns for free.

In addition, the IRS provides two programs: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) in which IRS-trained volunteers help prepare your return for no cost if you qualify.

VITA offers free tax help if you make $58,000 or less and TCE gives tax help if you are age 60 or older and specializes in pensions and retirement issues. The IRS also gives these tips for free tax preparation with these programs. Bring:

  • Proof of identification such as a picture ID Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents
  • Social Security Numbers for you, your spouse and dependents
  • Wage and earning statements (such as W2s) and dividend statements from banks
  • A copy of your last year’s federal and state returns if available
  • Proof of bank account routing numbers and account numbers, such as a blank check.

VITA and TCE are Local

Both VITA and TCE also work with local community groups to train and certify volunteer preparers. And according to the IRS, “VITA and TCE sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other convenient locations across the country.”

To locate the nearest VITA or TCE site near you, use the VITA Locator Tool on the IRS.gov website or call 800-906-9887.

Some other things to consider:

  • If electronically filing a married-filing-jointly return, both spouses must be present to sign required forms.
  • Using VITA and TCE may help ensure you get all the tax credits and deductions you deserve.
  • Some program locations give bilingual help.
  • VITA provides free help for military members and their families covering tax benefits for members of the armed forces.

Visit www.IRS.gov to discover more and learn from the filing process.

Knowing how your return works, from gathering of documents to the actual filing, helps you understand better how to reduce your taxes in the future.

 



Important Disclosures

Content in this material is for educational and general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

This article was prepared by RSW Publishing.

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