Free Stuff Alert: As everyone knows, the deadline for filing taxes is April 15. That's exactly four weeks from today. But what you might NOT know is that almost everyone qualifies for some kind of free tax prep help...
I was writing a story about this for one of my "real" jobs, and I realized it would be a good thing to post on the blog, and might help some of you save money. So here goes...
If you haven't filed your taxes yet, you might qualify for free tax preparation assistance. Here are some tips for filing your taxes for free:
1. Free software from the IRS. The typical American spends $200 each year filing basic forms, but 70 percent of taxpayers are eligible for the IRS's free tax-filing software program. If your adjusted gross income is under 56K, you qualify. Here's the link to find out more: http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=118986,00.html
2. Volunteer Tax Assistance Programs. As long as you're filing a basic return, there's a good chance the IRS can hook you up with some free tax prep assistance. The program is staffed by volunteers who have training on the basic returns. This won't help you if you file more complicated forms or take a lot of deductions. If you file a basic return and you make less than 42K, here's the link: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=107626,00.html
3. Free Senior Tax Counseling. If you're over the age of 60, the IRS has partnered with the AARP to offer a program called Tax Counseling for the Elderly. Trained volunteers offer free basic tax counseling and filing assistance. My 91-year-old grandfather used this service, and it was offered at the public library across the street from his house. If you're over 60 years old and low or middle income, here's the link to find a site in your area: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=109754,00.html
4. Military. This is probably the best free tax help program of all. It's available worldwide to all armed forces personnel and their families. You can receive free tax help, including filing. And the IRS automatically extends deadlines for filing returns for personnel in combat zones or serving overseas. That also applies if you've been injured in a combat zone. For more information, here's the link: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=97273,00.html
5. And finally, free IRS phone or walk-in help. You can always get free assistance by calling or walking in to ask questions about tax preparation. IRS employees are available to answer even the most complicated tax questions. For more info, here's the link: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=202121,00.html
I'd like to credit Mellody Hobson, "Good Morning America's" financial expert, for most of this information. I hope one of these programs helps you out, because I'm sure we could all use a tax REFUND this year.