If you’re new to filing taxes or have a more difficult return, getting qualified tax help can take some of the pressure off. Free help from government-sponsored volunteers and free tax-filing software are available to people who earn below a certain limit — and it’s not as low as you might think.
If you made less than $54,000 last year, you are eligible to use the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, where volunteers prepare your return for free. The IRS sponsors the program, but VITA sites can be in community centers, schools, libraries or college campuses. Use the free tax help locator to see what’s available near you.
If you pay to have your taxes done at a storefront tax preparer, be warned that, while they likely have more experience than VITA volunteers, the preparers are seasonal workers who might be getting paid by the form. And watch out for “discount” tax prep software. Check reviews and research the company before buying anything.
You can always DIY your return with your own tax software, but if you own a house or sold stock, the basic store-bought software might not have what you need. If you made less than $66,000 last year, you can use Free File.
WHAT TO BRING
If you’re going to any tax preparer, you’ll need to bring the right documentation, including: