How to File Your Taxes for Free
You might not be aware that you have a lot of options for filing your taxes for free, especially if your income drops below $69,000. We’ll dive into these options here. The first thing we want you to know is that if you qualify, you can actually get someone to do your taxes for you! Otherwise, there are some free online services that make it easy for you to do your own taxes.
Free Tax Service Information
Help from a Tax Specialist
My Free Taxes by United Way
Income Level (Specialist): $66,000 or less
Income Level (DIY Online): Any income
Also available to: Persons with disabilities, senior citizens and limited English speakers
You may not be a tax buff, and it’s always easier to get what you deserve when you work with someone. The federal and state VITA program provides you with an IRS-certified volunteer who will prepare your taxes and file them for free. One of the best reasons to use this service is that the volunteers can help you secure the tax credits you deserve, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the California EITC and the Child Tax Credit. Typically, you would meet with a VITA tax specialist at a community or neighborhood center, library, school or other VITA station. But dude to COVID-19, VITA centers are currently closed.
You can now access this service virtually by going to United Way’s myfreetaxes.org. There you will be able to choose to work with someone who will help you do your taxes for free, or you can do your taxes yourself (federal AND state) with chat support. You don’t have to meet any income requirements to file by yourself online, and it’s the best way to fill out your own taxes and get the maximum refund.
Here are more details on both of these options.
- Virtual Visit. Visit myfreetaxes.org and choose the “With Help” option if you’d like to work with someone to do your taxes. You’ll then be put in touch with an IRS-trained specialist that will meet with you via Zoom or on the phone. This is just like if you were to visit an office in person. The specialist will work with you to go over all of your documents and receipts, make sure that you’ve gotten your maximum refund, and fill both your state and federal taxes for free. If you like having someone do your taxes for you, this is an incredible free option that will get you the most money back you can get. There is an income requirement for this “in-person” service — you need to make $55,952 or less per year.
- File by Yourself. When you visit the site, choose “On My Own.” You’ll be able to fill out your taxes quickly and easily with free Credit Karma software and 24/7 chat support, if you have any questions. This is the best way to fill out your own taxes, both state and federal, and get the maximum refund, all for free. There are NO fees for state taxes, unlike other tax software. And you can use this software no matter how much or how little you made last year, which is also different from any other free file sites. If you want to do your taxes yourself, this is the choice for you.
Due to COVID-19, VITA tax specialists are available to help you until the October 15, 2020 deadline. In a typical year, you’ll need to have your taxes done by April 15 in order to get help from a VITA specialist.
Online through the IRS
The IRS has its own program called IRS Free File. It is a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance and it provides basic free online tax filing, but it is not as extensive as the VITA My Free Taxes options on myfreetaxes.org.
With IRS Free File, you have two options: brand-name tax preparation Free File Software or Free File Fillable Forms.
Please note, these options are for federal taxes. You will still need to file state taxes. There are a few Free File software options that offer state taxes, but certainly not all. You also don’t get any support in-person or via chat with these options.
IRS Free File Software (Tax software for federal taxes)
Income Level: $69,000 or less
Free File Software is the IRS free tax filing service for federal taxes that connects you with free IRS versions of brand-name tax software. You select a software program from IRS Free File, create an account and then the software guides you through your tax preparation and filing.
Pay attention as some of these companies will try to sell you other services too — if you are truly using their Free File version you shouldn’t have to pay anything. Unlike myfreetaxes.org, only a few options allow you to do state taxes.
- Free tax filing for low income filers
- State tax options on some software only
- You can only file your current year tax return
You can learn about Free File software options here or see the list below.
IRS Free File Fillable Forms (Manual forms for federal taxes only)
Free tax filing for higher income filers
Income Level: $69,000 or more
This free tax service has no age, income or residency restrictions. However, this service is not for you if you are not comfortable using only the form and form instructions to file a correct federal tax return. You can only do federal taxes with these forms. You will have to find another way to do state taxes — you cannot miss those.
- IRS free online tax filing for higher income filers
- Must know how to do your taxes yourself
- State tax prep is not available
- Need to meet specific computer requirements
You can learn more about the Free Fillable Forms here.
Free Tax Services List
SUGGESTED: VITA My Free Taxes (Federal and State Taxes) – Tax Specialist or DIY
Here is the link to sign up for a VITA tax specialist or to do your federal and state taxes yourself with online support: myfreetaxes.org.
“With Help” from a VITA tax specialist will direct you to the service getyourrefund.org. You can do this if your income is $66,000 or less.
The “On My Own” option uses Credit Karma software, and chat support. You can use this service no matter what your income level is.
ALTERNATIVE: IRS Online Software (Federal and Limited State Options)
Here are the different IRS options if your income is $69,000 or less. They all offer federal filing, but only a few offer state tax filing. You can find out eligibility details here. Always go through the IRS site first if you pick one of these options.
TaxSlayer® IRS Free File
TaxAct IRS Free File
H&R Block IRS Free File
ezTaxReturn.com IRS Free File
1040NOW IRS Free File
TurboTax IRS Free File
FreeTaxUSA IRS Free File
Free 1040 Tax Return IRS Free File
Online Taxes at OLT.com IRS Free File
FileYourTaxes.com IRS Free File
ALTERNATIVE: Online Forms (Federal Only)
Again, if your income is greater than $69,000, the IRS offers the manual Fillable Forms option for federal-only tax filing.
What You Need
Items you will need in order to file your taxes:
- Social Security Numbers for anyone listed on your taxes
- Birth dates for anyone listed on your taxes
- A valid email address and U.S. phone number
- Last year’s tax return (if you have it)
- Income Tax Forms: W-2, 1099, Social Security Benefits, Unemployment Compensation
- Other tax forms: Student Loan 1098-E, Health Insurance 1095-A, etc
- Forms and receipts for things like childcare, vehicles, college, health costs, mortgage
- Bank account info if you want to get your return deposited into your account
Your income tax forms show how much money you have already paid, so it’s important to include all of them. All these documents will help you to get the most returns you can, so you can keep more of your money. For example, if you spent a significant amount on childcare or health care, some costs could be removed from the taxes that you owe. If you donated to charity, that might also make the number you owe lower. That means these things might add to the amount of money you get back!
How to get started on your free taxes:
My Free Taxes – Specialist or DIY
Go to myfreetaxes.org and choose an option (With Help or by On My Own). Again, this is the easiest and most robust option! You’ll really get the deductions you deserve, have support and can do federal and state taxes for free.
IRS Free File Software
Visit the IRS free file site and choose a software tool. (Make sure to go through the IRS site to get to the provider.)
IRS Free File Fillable Forms
Pay attention to tax deadlines!
April 15th – Yearly tax deadline
October 15th – Final tax deadline, even if you applied for an extension.