Many people are intimidated by the thought of doing their own taxes. And why not? All those forms and rules, and what if you make a mistake? While it is possible to do your own taxes with the help of a computer program, many people just prefer to have some professional help preparing their taxes. But if you can’t afford tax help, it can be rather discouraging. Many tax preparers charge between $80 and $100 for a basic tax return. That’s without any special cases, or very many forms. The more complicated your tax return gets, the more you want tax help — and the more that tax help is likely to cost. The good news, though, is that there are sources of tax help that are low-cost or even free. Here are some suggestions for finding free tax help:
The IRS. Give the IRS a call. The customer service line can answer many of your questions — right from the source. And sometimes you can even get someone to give you free tax help step by step through preparing your return.
Tax-Aide from AARP. The AARP offers free tax help at a variety of locations around the country. You can visit the Tax-Aide Web site to locate a free tax help center near you.
Check your local city government. Many communities have outreach programs that offer free tax help, or help at low prices. Contact you local Chamber of Commerce, City Hall or community outreach organization to find out whether there are low cost or free tax help options in your area.
The local college or university. Many colleges and universities offer internship hours to accounting students who help members of their communities prepare their taxes. If your area has a college or university, call and ask if there is a free, or low fee, tax help program.