Even if you’re expecting a tax refund, this time of year can be, well, taxing on your wallet when it comes to paying for tax preparation services. According to the 2020-21 National Society of Accountants survey, the average cost of hiring a certified public accountant (CPA) to prepare and submit a Form 1040 and state return with no itemized deductions is $220, while the average fee for an itemized Form 1040 and a state tax return is $323.
The good news is that, if you qualify, you can get free help filing your return and not spend a dime.
Here are some programs to investigate:
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help for those who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.
Assistance is provided at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Simply use the handy VITA Locator Tool or call 800-906-9887 to find the site closest to you. This program is usually offered at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other public locations. Here’s how the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program works and what you need to bring.
The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program is geared toward those 50 and older who have questions or need help filing their returns. Volunteers, usually through nonprofit groups, offer their time at 5,000 locations nationwide via a grant from the IRS. To locate the nearest Tax Aide site, use the AARP Site Locator Tool or call 888-OUR-AARP.
Look for local help. If you live in New York City, for example, you could have your tax return prepared via the Food Bank’s Tax Assistance Program, which helped New Yorkers get back more than $140 million in tax refunds and credits. Eligibility requirements include earning $54,000 or less with dependents or $30,000 or less without dependents.
For more Living on the Cheap posts about doing taxes:
- 8 resolutions to make before next tax day
- Free and low-cost ways to file your taxes online
- Tax tips for procrastinators