Tax season is upon us. The last day to file for most taxpayers is April 15 unless an extension is filed. Most people find the tax rules complex and confusing. If you need assistance with tax preparation, free preparation and advice is available from AARP (American Association of Retired People), the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), volunteer organizations, and some commercial tax advisors.
Here’s a list of tax preparation assistance resources as identified by AARP:
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers free tax preparation assistance February 1 through April 15 to low- to moderate-income taxpayers—especially those 50 and older—at 5000 locations nationwide. This service is open to all (no AARP membership required) with service provided by IRS-certified volunteers. Check the Tax-Aide Site Locator or call 888-227-7669 toll free to find a nearby site. Federal and state tax assistance is available at most locations. One should contact the site to confirm availability and check hours before going. And also check this AARP site for what documents to bring with you.
Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). A federal grant program provides tax preparation assistance to those 60 and older from IRS-certified volunteers. Many of the TCE sites are operated by AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. For more information, call 888-227-7669 toll-free or check here for a nearby site.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). Under another federal grant program, IRS-certified VITA volunteers provide tax-preparation services to older Americans, low- and moderate-income filers, people with disabilities and those with limited English language skills. Generally, taxpayers must have an annual income below $55,000 to qualify. Call 800-906-9887 or check here to find a nearby VITA site.
IRS Free File. Taxpayers with incomes below $66,000 are eligible to file federal tax returns online through IRS Free File using software from select partners like TaxAct and TurboTax. To browse options and confirm eligibility, visit Free File Software Offers.
IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs). Help is also available at local IRS offices that host a Taxpayer Assistance Center. An appointment is necessary and services vary by office. Check the IRS site to find a nearby location.
MilTax Filing Service. Mil Tax from Military OneSource and the Department of Defense provides easy-to-use tax preparation and e-filing software to active duty military personnel and select others, including spouses, dependent children and survivors. Consultants are available to provide 24/7 phone assistance at 800-342-9647. Check the Military OneSouce site for more information.
Do-it-yourself online options. Several for-profit tax providers (H&R Block, TurboTax, Credit Karma Tax, TaxAct, DIY Tax and TaxSlayer Simply Free) offer online filing tools. Check their individual websites to see if their offerings fit your needs.
A local tax professional. The National Society of Accountants says nearly 90 percent of accountants and tax prep professionals offer free client consultation. To make sure that the consultant is qualified, check the Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications for a listing of preparers in your area who currently hold professional credentials recognized by the IRS or who hold an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion.