June 25, 2024

How to do your tax return for free!

FREE is good! Especially, if it is doing something you have to do anyway, like Income Tax returns. Wait, it even gets better, because often you actually make money doing it!

I hope everybody takes advantage of these free services to prepare and file your income tax return, because it is not proven that a paid service does a better job and gets you a bigger refund.

So what am I talking about? There are several ways to have a tax educated person prepare your federal income tax return at no cost and file it for you at no cost! And if you file an honest return you could get a refund if you paid too much in withholding taxes in 2017.

Here are some options of organizations and companies that will file certain  income tax returns for free:

VITA program: This Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is monitored and organized by the IRS with local organizations. At several sites within the city volunteers that have completed the special course and are certified can help families, disabled persons and elderly people that have less than $54,000 income in 2017 to prepare a basic return for free, and file it electronically with the IRS.

Some places even have volunteers that speak Spanish or Creole. Here is a list of things to bring:

  • Proof of identification (photo ID)
  • Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents 
  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter may be substituted for you, your spouse and your dependents if you do not have a Social Security number
  • Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
  • Wage and earning statements (Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R,1099-Misc) from all employers
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
  • Health Insurance Exemption Certificate, if received
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available
  • Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit such as a blank check
  • To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms
  • Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number such as their Social Security number or business Employer Identification Number
  • Forms 1095-A, B and C, Health Coverage Statements
  • Copies of income transcripts from IRS and state, if applicable

Adding up all numbers to get the biggest refund possible!


The AARP has similar tax preparation sites for people over 50, but the volunteers at these sites are happy to help other people that qualify too. However, some of these sites only do income tax returns by appointment only. You can find locations at aarp.org/findtaxhelp or call 888-227-7669

H&R Block is also offering a free service if you file the simple tax return form 1040EZ. This offer is available in the offices till February 28, 2018. It is a good way to file if you have less than $100,000 a year in wages and tips, no dependents and do not itemize deductions. There will be additional fees if you have extra forms.

As you can see there are many possibilities if you like to have an expert help you to prepare the 2017 income tax return.


FREE File Software program

For many people that do not have a lot of deductions and the income is from a job or unemployment the IRS has several companies listed that offer FREE online filing programs. These are software programs that guide you through the filing by asking questions. You can use these offers if you make less than $66,000 a year. Here is a link to the website https://apps.irs.gov/app/freeFile/jsp/index.jsp.

Read the specific details for your state as not all providers offer state returns in all states.

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/How to Free File Infographic_508 FINAL.pdf

Infographic IRS.gov

These are great ways to file your tax return, however if you have a lot of itemized deductions or do need to file Schedule C for a business that you do part time, maybe see a professional tax preparer.


Two tips for filing 2017 annual return

  1. Itemizing your expenses will be harder next year. Big advantage for deductions on schedule A this year is that the percentage for qualified medical expenses has dropped from 10 % to 7.5 % of your Adjusted Gross Income. See a list of expenses that qualify here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p502.pdf
  2. Last date to file your return is April 17, 2018. This is because of a public holiday in Washington, DC that falls on Monday April 16.

If you have questions regarding filing your taxes this year, feel free to reach out to me. I hope that this information is helpful for you and helps you save money on the annual compliance of filing an income tax return.

If the above options do not work for you because you are a business owner and need to file schedule C, I have a webinar coming up soon. Click here to email me for the next date of presenting the webinar “Benefits of being your own Boss”.


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