With the government constantly changing exactly what “tax season” brings to most of us, it’s no wonder we have loads of questions every year. And in some cases, it really is best to hire a professional. For the majority of us, if we could just get our questions answered without paying out the nose for it that would be best. That’s why we got together some of the best free resources to help you get through your tax planning and the tax season itself.
Have questions about your taxes but not a lot of extra money in the budget for an expensive account or CPA? The IRS has a number of programs for taxpayers to take advantage of. The IRS, along with the AARP and Military OneSource, are where it’s at when it comes to free tax resources. See why — and how — you can benefit from turning to any of them for tax help in this list.
Find the Answers to Your Pressing Tax Questions with These Free Resources.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) itself offers several different programs taxpayers can turn to for assistance. Each has a different set of guidelines, so you’ll need to do your homework to make sure you quality for free help. The programs include:
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA): This program is available to people with disabilities, those who have limited English language skills, and people who make under $55k per year. The IRS provides training to VITA volunteers, but each location has its own rules for qualification.
- IRS Taxpayer Assistance: Check out the IRS website to find the office most local to you. Taxpayers who can’t get an answer to their questions via phone support are urged to make an appointment to speak to someone in person. These programs offer basic tax assistance, but you may still need to seek professional advice if you have questions about complicated tax credits or IRAs.
- Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE): This program is usually offered to people ages 60 and up. Normally sponsored by community centers, senior groups, and libraries, these programs aren’t hard to find. You can find a list of resources online.
Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs)
This program is partially sponsored by but is not a part of the IRS. It can be a huge help to those who need legal services. This program is open to people with an income level beneath 250 percent of the federal poverty level or to those who don’t speak English as a first language. You’ll usually find LITC offices in business or law schools, as well as through legal-aid groups. Some even offer representation for those who have dispute, audit or collection issues with the IRS.
AARP Tax Foundation
This non-profit group is tied into the VITA and TCE programs run by the IRS. The Tax-Aide network helps connect taxpayers with IRS-certified counselors. If you’re not in a rush, you can also use the AARP’s Tax Foundation website to submit questions online. This program is available to any age group and you do not need to be a member of AARP to use it.
This program, also known as MilTax, is designed for active duty military members, veterans and their dependents. The program is sponsored by the Department of Defense and is available seven days a week. The VITA program supports MilTax by offering face-to-face consultations to those who need them as well.
Don’t be afraid to call your local accountant to ask if they offer free consultations. Most are willing to answer simple questions as a courtesy. A lot of tax preparation groups — like TurboTax, TaxAct and others — have phone support as part of their premium programs. No matter what your situation, there is a way to find free help. All you have to do is ask around… or check back here frequently.