Filing your taxes doesn't have to cost you money. Here are a few of the free options available:
Qualified taxpayers can use FreeFile to file their federal taxes via TurboTax, H&R Block and 10 other private software providers. It's generally open to anyone earning less than $66,000, although software providers have their own eligibility criteria.
The IRS estimates about 70 percent of Americans are eligible for FreeFile. There are options for free state preparation as well.
Taxpayers who earned more than $66,000 can use Free Fillable forms, the electronic version of paper IRS forms. Unlike the software services, it offers only basic guidance, but will do the math for you. There are no free state filing options.
FreeFile and the Free Fillable Forms can be found online at irs.gov/freefile.
VITA and TCE
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs both offer free tax filing assistance through volunteer-run programs in communities nationwide.
VITA offers free tax help to moderate and low-income individuals, and to people with disabilities or taxpayers with limited English skills. TCE focuses on helping taxpayers aged 60 and up. Both programs use IRS-certified volunteers to provide the help.
To find a site near you, check the IRS website. The AARP Foundation runs many of the TCE sites and has more information on its website.
Tax software companies often have their own free filing options in addition to FreeFile.
TurboTax, for example, offers TurboTax Free, which allows taxpayers with simple tax returns to file their federal and state tax returns completely free. H&R Block also offers a free option for simple tax filings. H&R Block works with United Way to offer MyFree Taxes, for taxpayers earning $66,000 or less. Credit Karma Tax also has a free tax filing option.
Military OneSource, a Department of Defense funded service for members of the military, offers free online filing services through MilTax. It includes tax prep software and support from tax consultants to help with special conditions facing those in the military, including deployment, combat pay and multistate filings.
The service can be found through the Military OneSource website.