With April 15th looming around the corner, taxes are probably on the mind. It can often be confusing to navigate an increasingly complicated tax code but it does not have to be. Although not well-known, there are lots of resources available to help seniors file taxes for free. Instead of stressing about tax season, here are some tips to get you the tax help you need:
1. The IRS
An often ignored resource, the IRS actually has a lot of information and support in place to help make filing for taxes as easy and painless as possible. The level of support they offer ranges for forms and publications, tax tools such as calculators as well as a dedicated resource center to find free services that the IRS may offer.
Plus, they now have a dedicated interactive tax assistant that can help answer general questions (without needing to be stuck on the phone for hours)
If you’re looking for more practical assistance with filing taxes, VITA might be the right resource for you. This is a program designed to offer free tax help to people who make less than $55,000 a year. IRS-certified volunteers are able to provide free basic income tax return preparation for anyone who qualifies.
Additionally, there’s also Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE), which offers free tax advice for all taxpayers with a particular focus for those who are older than 60. Similar to VITA, IRS-certified volunteers provide tax counseling, and these volunteers are generally other retired individuals which makes it more of a peer-to-peer program. To locate the nearest VITA or TCE site near you, you can use the VITA Locator Tool or call 800-906-9887.
If your combined income is less than $66,000 a year, you might qualify for a United Way program that offers free tax assistance called My Free Taxes. They can help with both federal and state tax forms, as well as help you navigate premium software such as H&R Block for quick and fast filing. United Way is the only nonprofit to offer free, national and online tax filing across the United States.
Speaking of tax software, you might think programs such as H&R Block and Turbotax can only be used by paying for them. While yes, these software programs tend to have paid and premium options, most of what you need for basic tax filing is free. If you are unable to find a reliable and cost-effective accountant to file taxes, online software might be the answer for you.
While some of these are quite basic (i.e. they only offer help with federal returns, not state) or there might be hidden fees involved, with some careful research, you can find the right free features for your needs. If you find your tax returns are pretty straightforward and basic, then it might be worth checking out the free options first and using as much of those as possible.
Tax season might seem scary on the onset, but with some careful research and planning, it does not have to be. Look at resources that the IRS offers to see what free options you have available to you in your area. It might also be worth contacting your local senior organizations, as they might have additional local advice for filing taxes (especially state returns). Free tax software programs such as H&R Block can help bridge the gap for less complicated returns while you look for other resources.