Guide to Filing Your Taxes for Free in 2024

Paying someone to assist with tax filings can compound the already arduous process and add significant expenses. On average, American taxpayers spend $240, along with 13 hours of work, to prepare and file a single federal tax return, according to data from the IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate Service.

However, there are multiple programs available to help individuals file their taxes for free. Notably, eligibility for these services varies, so it’s essential to review the specific criteria to determine suitability for one’s tax situation.

Here are six methods to file taxes for free:

1. IRS Free File:
Taxpayers with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $79,000 or less can utilize Free File, partnering with IRS-approved tax companies, to file federal income tax returns online at no cost. This service is accessible to approximately 100 million Americans. For those with higher incomes, electronic tax forms without guidance are an alternative.

2. IRS Volunteer-Run Programs:
The IRS operates two initiatives – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) – offering free tax preparation aid. Eligibility criteria vary, with income thresholds and age requirements determining qualification. Services include in-person, drop-off, and virtual assistance.

3. AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide:
The AARP provides tax preparation assistance, primarily targeting individuals aged 50 and older or those with moderate-to-low income. While many tax situations are covered, certain complexities, such as virtual currency investments, may disqualify individuals from receiving aid.

4. MilTax:
The U.S. Defense Department offers free tax software exclusively to servicemembers, eligible family members, and survivors. Military-specific tax considerations, including deployments and multistate filings, are addressed. However, some associated taxpayers, like veterans, may not be eligible.

5. IRS Direct File:

This pilot program allows eligible taxpayers to file directly with the IRS at no cost. However, it’s currently available in limited states and imposes restrictions on income types and amounts. Basic returns can be filed online through the IRS Direct File site.

6. Free Tax Software:
Several platforms offer free federal filing regardless of age, income, or income type. Examples include Cash App Taxes, FreeTaxUSA, TurboTax Free Edition, H&R Block, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer®.

These options provide accessible avenues for taxpayers to fulfil their filing obligations without incurring additional expenses. Whether through IRS initiatives, volunteer-run programs, or free software, individuals can leverage these resources to navigate the tax-filing process effectively.