Filing Assistance this Tax Season

Published 9:30 am Sunday, January 8, 2023

Every year, starting in January, American tax season begins. Between collecting forms, receipts, and financials, filing your taxes can feel like a long process. This year don’t let filing stress you out and check out these resources to make it easier. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides tools to make your tax filing easier and potentially free. This article highlights four services, either provided or partially paid for by the IRS, that you can trust to help you with your taxes.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinic

Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) represents low-income individuals who have a tax dispute with the IRS and provides help to people who speak English as a second language. Clinics also provide information and education about taxpayer rights. Services are provided for free or for a small fee. Your local LITC will decide if you meet the income guidelines and other criteria before agreeing to help you. Learn more about qualifications and to contact someone near you, check out the LITC page on the IRS website.

Free File

Available only at IRS.gov, IRS Free File makes doing your federal taxes less taxing, using guided tax preparation or Free File Fillable Forms that do the hard work for you. This online tax preparation service lets you prepare your own tax return and e-file it for free. Guided tax preparation helps you find the tax breaks you are due and helps you meet your health care reporting requirements. Some IRS Free File providers also offer free state return preparation.

When you electronically prepare and file using IRS Free File software or fillable forms, your tax return is sent to the IRS safely and securely. You also get an acknowledgement that the IRS has accepted your return. You can print your return for free. Using both e-file and direct deposit is the fastest way to receive a refund.

All you need is a computer and an email address to get started with IRS Free File. IRS Free File must be accessed through IRS.gov. IRS Free File providers offer a free federal tax return and some offer free state return. You must qualify to use the guided IRS Free File software. You can use the IRS Free File Online Lookup Tool to find which offer(s) you qualify for.

To learn more about how to file through Free File options, visit the IRS Do Your Taxes for Free page.

Direct Deposit

Direct Deposit is a free service for electronically transferring your tax refund from the IRS into your bank account. More than eight out of ten taxpayers use Direct Deposit to get their tax refunds. Direct Deposit is easy, safe, and secure.

Whether you file electronically or on paper, Direct Deposit gives you access to your refund faster than a paper check. Direct Deposit also avoids the chance that your check could be lost, stolen, or returned to IRS as undeliverable.

You are eligible for Direct Deposit if you are due a federal tax refund and if you have a bank account. You may select Direct Deposit on your tax form or software and include your financial information and routing number. Check this out to learn more about Direct Deposit and how to set it up for your refund.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program gives free tax help to people who need help filing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. These volunteers are local and provide their services at public places in your community.

To qualify for this program, you must:

  • Earn $60,000 or less
  • Be disabled
  • Not speak English well; or
  • Be a senior citizen

Learn about the specific requirements, other programs, and find a local help center on the IRS website. For more information on other types of government benefits, check out the Benefit Finder to see what you may be eligible to receive.  It is easy to use and takes about 10-30 minutes. When you fill out the questionnaire, you will answer questions about yourself, and it will give you a list of government benefits you may be eligible for. Once you get your benefit results, you will be directed to apply on the agency website.