Want to save a few hundred of dollars this spring? Prepare your taxes for free.
Even if you aren’t a typical “DIYer” there are many programs that help you prepare your taxes for free instead of paying someone to prepare and file them for you. Average Americans spend more than $250 each year of tax preparation and filing fees. For some, that expense can mean the difference from paying down a credit card, having money in an emergency savings account, or getting a car repaired.
So, before you spend several hundred dollars on a fee-based service, check out these three free (and professional) alternatives. Depending on whether your tax situation and income meet qualifications, you might be eligible for these free programs:
1. United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s Free Tax Prep Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Sites
This free IRS-sponsored program (VITA) uses trained, professional volunteers to help taxpayers complete basic state and federal tax returns.
Who’s eligible: Generally, low to moderate taxpayers, those on fixed incomes, with disabilities and people with limited English-language abilities are eligible for free tax preparation and filing. United Way of Greater Cincinnati supports more than 30 different locations; find locations and learn about your eligibility by calling 2-1-1- or visiting www.makeworkpay.com.
2. Self-prep at a Free Tax Prep Site
“Self-prep” is an alternative to having your return filed by a trained VITA volunteer. Some Free Tax Prep sites host “facilitated self assistance”. This means you prepare and file your own basic state and federal tax forms using web-based tax software and with help from a tax coach, who is an IRS-certified volunteer. The option is available at VITA locations that list “Self-Prep” in the site listing.
3. MyFreeTaxes.com (A partnership of United Way and H&R Block)
MyFreeTaxes.com is a United Way program that offers free tax help using H&R Block software. The software guides you through the return and there’s additional help available through answers to common questions.
Who’s eligible: MyFreeTaxes is completely free to individuals & families, regardless of income, unless you need to file a Schedule C, Schedule D, Schedule E or HSA documents. So, if you have anticipate receiving a 1099-MISC form from any employment in 2019, own rental profits or need to report a capital gain/ loss, you may not be eligible.
Lastly, if you are a true DIY person and want to prepare your taxes on your own, Free File is a partnership between the IRS and makers of commercial tax-preparation software participating in the IRS Free File program. Depending on your level of income, eligible taxpayers get free use of one of the following: