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Free and Low-Cost Tax Filing Options

Tax Day is less than a few weeks away. According to a survey from IPX1031, 29% of Americans procrastinate on doing their taxes. Likewise, one in four Americans don’t feel prepared to file their taxes this year. If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, there are numerous free and low-cost filing options available to those who qualify. Below is a list highlighting some of the most popular of these options. 

IRS Direct File

The IRS is testing out a new filing option this tax season. IRS Direct File is a free filing software available to qualified taxpayers in 12 states, including Florida. This filing method supports a few income types, including W-2s, social security, and unemployment. You can also file a number of tax credits and deductions. A few drawbacks to the pilot software is that it only supports certain income types, meaning taxpayers with more complicated tax situations are not able to file. It also does not help with state tax returns. Click here to see if you’re eligible for IRS Direct File services.

IRS Free File

Families and individuals with an adjusted gross income of $79,000 a year or less qualify for IRS Free File, a no-cost tax filing software. In 2022, nearly 70% of taxpayers qualified for IRS Free File. The software partners with eight different tax companies that provide services based on income, location, filing needs, and more. Even so, IRS Free File services are not meant for all taxpayers, especially those with complex tax situations. Some participating companies also don't provide free state tax return services, so it's smart to do your research with each available option. You can find more information about the IRS Free File program by clicking here.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides free tax filing services to taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $60,000 a year or less. It’s also available to Americans with disabilities or limited English skills. The free service helps with basic tax returns, like 1040s, pension income, retirement income, and a few others. Despite this, VITA is not the right fit for all taxpayers who fall within the $60,000 or less tax bracket. It should also be noted that VITA tax appointments are held in person, although GetYourRefund.org provides VITA-adjacent services to taxpayers who are unable to schedule an in-person appointment. The online service is also available to people who made under $66,000 last year. 

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) 

Similar to VITA, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program provides free tax filing services for people aged 60 or older. The program specializes in retirement and pension-related tax issues and can help prepare simple tax returns. While retirement-related tax filing is what this program is known for, it’s also available to people who are not yet retired but are nearing retirement age. In some cases, AARP-run TCE services may be available to low and moderate-income taxpayers in their 50s. Like VITA, TCE might not be right for all elderly taxpayers, especially those who have complex tax issues. Be sure to check out the VITA/TCE locator tool to find free tax services near you. 

MilTax

MilTax is a free tax program available to servicemembers, veterans, and their families. While the program provides tax filing services, it also offers free financial and legal resources, in addition to free tax help via phone or live chat. MilTax’s filing software was created with military tax concerns in mind, as it provides combat pay and relocation filing options. Filers can submit up to three state tax returns, in addition to a federal tax return. The MilTax program also provides face-to-face VITA services on most military bases. To access the MilTax software, visit Militaryonesource.mil.

Other Programs 

Numerous other tax software provide free and low-cost tax services to those who qualify. FreeTaxUSA is a no-cost and versatile software that provides tax filers with all IRS forms needed to file a federal return. You can also file state returns with the software for $15. Likewise, H&R Block Free Online is equipped to handle numerous tax documents, although the software does not allow you to report income from freelance work, gig work, or stock sales. TurboTax Free Edition handles simple state and federal tax returns and is available to 37% of taxpayers. Gulf Winds members also get discounted tax services through TurboTax. A few other free and low-cost tax software include TaxSlayer Simply Free, TaxAct Free, and Cash App Taxes

For those who haven’t filed their taxes yet, you have until the April 15 deadline to do so. With numerous free and low-cost options available, now is a more convenient time than ever to file. If doing it yourself, just be sure to set aside an hour or two to ensure it’s done correctly, and don’t procrastinate on it. After all, you don’t want to wait until Tax Day to file!

Need more tax filing insight? Be sure to check out our blog on tax tips.


Hunter Morrison

Hunter Morrison

About Hunter Morrison

Hunter has freelanced for various print and radio publications across Northwest Florida, including The Bay Beacon, Navarre Press, Inweekly, Crestview News Bulletin, and WUWF. He was also the Editor in Chief of the University of West Florida’s student newspaper, The Voyager. In 2023, Hunter moved to Kenai, Alaska to take up a news reporting position with KDLL Public Radio. For fun, Hunter enjoys cross-country skiing, hiking, photography, thrifting, traveling, and looking for the best Thai food around. 

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