Don’t want or can’t pay a tax pro to do your tax return? You have some options.
There are a stack of commercial programs and online sites to choose from that will help you prepare your income taxes. Most walk you through the process with questions to get the info needed to file your return. And if your income is under $58,000 for 2013 you might be able to use the IRS Free File. The Free File Alliance was started years ago to help lower income taxpayers prepare and file their federal taxes. The IRS has convinced a bunch of tax software companies and online tax service companies to offer free tax preparation and return filing for Federal returns for households under $57,000 in income. You access Free File through the IRS website. The free part of free file actually only applies to the Federal return. You could be charged for any state returns you need completed. Check the fine print.
If you are a tax do-it-yourselfer and want to electronically file your return, the IRS has fillable tax forms. These forms act like a paper form and you fill in the blanks. They will do limited mathematical calculations and can be e-filed when you have the return finished. There are also complete instructions for the program. This tool is not currently available. The IRS says it is coming soon and will be accessible at the bottom of the Free File page. As for state returns, check on your state’s website for online filing options. Many states, like Kansas, give taxpayers the ability to file their state return online for free.
If the idea of preparing your own taxes causes you to panic but you really can’t afford to pay a preparer, there is volunteer tax help available to you. The IRS certified programs are VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) and TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly). Vita will help households with less than $51,000 in income and TCE is for taxpayers who are 60 or older. Besides tax preparation, the programs can e-file your returns. There are also specialized services for the military and their family. To find a location near you, the IRS has a search program and more info about the program.
There are a bunch of options available for taxpayers who need some help preparing their tax returns but don’t want to pay a tax pro. Check what options they offer and what hours they are open. One of these programs might work for you.