The Internal Revenue Service wants taxpayers who have yet to file their 2016 federal income tax return to know they can still get last-minute free tax help. Taxpayers can choose to either use IRS Free File or go to a community tax-help site for free tax preparation and assistance.
IRS Free File
All taxpayers can use either IRS Free File or IRS Free File Fillable Forms.
IRS Free File is available for anyone who earned $64,000 or less last year. Through a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, a group of 12 leading tax software companies, taxpayers can use their tax software to prepare and e-file their tax return at no cost. Since 2003, more than 50 million people have used IRS Free File; saving $1.5 billion based on a conservative $30 fee estimate.
More than 70 percent of all taxpayers are eligible for the software products. Each of the 12 companies has its own special offers, generally based on age, income or state residency. Taxpayers can review each company offer or they can use a “Help Me” tool that will find the software they are eligible to use.
Active duty military personnel with incomes of $64,000 or less may use any IRS Free File software product without regard to the criteria. IRS Free File software does the hard work. It walks users through the tax preparation process and helps identify those tax changes that may affect their return.
Taxpayers earning more than $64,000 can use IRS Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. The Fillable Forms option is best for people who are comfortable preparing their own tax return.
Taxpayers have the option to prepare their return at any time and schedule a tax payment as late as the April 18 deadline. Taxpayers who cannot meet the April tax filing deadline can also use IRS Free File (with no income restrictions) to request an automatic six-month extension until Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
IRS Free File, available only through IRS.gov/FreeFile, will be available through Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
Community Tax Help
Taxpayers who qualify can obtain free tax preparation at nearly 12,000 community sites nationwide. These free tax help sites are generally located in nearby shopping malls, schools and neighborhood centers. Community tax help consists of two programs, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA program, and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly, or TCE program. Both programs provide free tax preparation and assistance.
The VITA program offers free tax help to individuals who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly and individuals with limited English proficiency who need assistance in preparing their taxes. The TCE program offers free tax help for taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 and older.
VITA and TCE volunteers are IRS certified and trained to help prepare basic tax returns, both federal and state. Volunteers can use tax software to prepare and e-file a taxpayer’s return. They help determine what credits, deductions and allowable expenses a taxpayer may qualify for, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care Credit. These programs are not able to provide help with business tax returns or complex individual income tax returns.
In addition, the military and the IRS have joined to provide free tax assistance to military personnel and their families. The Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC) consists of the tax program coordinators for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The AFTC oversees the operation of the military tax programs worldwide, and serves as the main conduit for outreach by the IRS to military personnel and their families. Volunteers can also address military specific tax issues, such as combat zone tax benefits and the effect of the EITC guidelines.