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6 Types of People Who May Be Able to File Taxes for Free This Year


You know what’s worse than filing your taxes? Paying to file your taxes. Yet millions of Americans have no choice but to do it, whether they’re filing on their own or using a tax preparer. 

Free federal tax filing is possible for some, though. If you fall into one of the following six groups, you might be able to get your taxes out of the way without spending a dime.

1. Low-income households

The IRS Free File program enables low-income households to file basic tax returns at no charge. Some popular online tax software, like TaxAct and TaxSlayer, are partners in this program, and you can use their tools to help you file your return for free. Some also enable you to file free state tax returns if you meet the income requirements.

Eligibility varies by provider. If your household has an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $79,000 or less, you should be able to take advantage of this program. The IRS’s online tool to find the best Free File trusted partner is a good place to begin if you don’t already have tax software in mind.

Those with low incomes who want personalized tax assistance can get help through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This is for individuals who make about $64,000 or less. Tax preparers typically set up shop at community centers to assist qualifying taxpayers with their returns. You can locate the nearest VITA location to you with the IRS’s locator tool. It will also let you know if you have to make an appointment before arriving.

2. Individuals with disabilities

The VITA program discussed above also assists individuals with disabilities in filing their tax returns. Again, these volunteers are typically only there to assist with filing basic tax returns. Those who have more complicated returns — perhaps they own their own business or have other uncommon sources of income — may need to hire a tax professional or use a paid tax filing software that can help them file their returns correctly.

3. Those who speak limited English

The VITA program helps those who speak limited English, too. But keep in mind, this program is run by volunteers in the area, so there’s no guarantee that someone in that area will speak your language. However, if you use the VITA locator tool linked above, you can see which language(s) the volunteers speak.

4. Adults 60 and older

The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program is similar to VITA but specializes in the needs of adults 60 and older. Many of the volunteers it employs have expertise in senior-specific issues, like pensions and retirement income. Those seeking assistance through this program can find TCE volunteers using the VITA locator tool linked above.

5. Military members

The Department of Defense offers MilTax to help military members file their tax returns and get military-specific tax advice for free. Many popular tax software also offer free filing to U.S. service members. But it’s important to read the fine print to understand what’s included. Some military members may still be required to pay if they have complicated tax returns.

6. Those who live in states participating in the IRS’s Direct File pilot program

The IRS is currently working on a Direct File program that would enable Americans to file their taxes for free. Currently, it’s only available to those in the following states: 

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

You can use this program to file simple tax returns and claim some common tax credits and deductions, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. But again, those with more complicated returns will probably need to pay to file their 2023 taxes.

It’s worth exploring the above programs if you qualify for any of them. But it’s important to be aware of their limitations. You want your taxes done correctly, and sometimes a free service just isn’t enough.

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