The Internal Revenue Service has announced that the nation’s 2016 individual income tax filing season opens Jan. 19, 2016, with more than 150 million tax returns expected to be filed this year.
People will have several extra days to file their tax returns this year. Taxpayers have until Monday, Apr. 18 to file their 2015 tax returns and pay any tax due because of the Emancipation Day holiday in Washington, D.C., falling on Friday, April 15. The IRS expects more than 70 percent of taxpayers to again receive tax refunds this year. Last year, the IRS issued 109 million refunds, with an average refund of $2,797.
Shown below are several ways Veterans and their families have access to free tax preparation and electronic filing services to keep more of their hard earned money.
- IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs are available to taxpayers that earned less than $54,000 in 2015. More than 3.7 million tax returns were prepared using these services in 2014. All tax returns completed through VITA are prepared by IRS certified volunteers, so you can feel confident your tax return is accurate. Even better, there are over 12,000 convenient locations across the country. To find the VITA location nearest you, enter your zip code into the easy-to-use VITA/TCE Locater.
- MyFreeTaxes, operating the only free online tax preparation and filing assistance platform available in all 50 states and Washington D.C., who earned $62,000 or less in 2015, allows qualified Veterans, active-duty military, their families and all other qualifying taxpayers to file both a federal and state tax return absolutely free. In addition to e-filing, MyFreeTaxes also provides in-person help to individuals and families earning $20,000 or less in 2015. For more information, please visit: www.myfreetaxes.com. The MyFreeTaxes initiative is managed by United Way, with the assistance from legacy partners, National Disability Institute and Goodwill Industries International, and is sponsored by the Wal-Mart Foundation.
In addition to free tax preparation and assistance services like VITA, TCE and MyFreeTaxes, there are several other free options qualifying Veterans and military families can use. However, please make note of additional eligibility requirements, and be advised not all are available in your particular location. Read more about each for information on eligibility and availability of services.
- IRS.gov/FreeFile serves as a central hub where taxpayers can choose from a variety of industry-leading tax software options in order to prepare and e-file their federal tax returns at no cost. If you earned $62,000 or less last year, you are eligible to choose from among 13 software products. If you earned more, you are still eligible for Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. In fact, more than 70 percent of all taxpayers – 100 million people – are eligible for the software products. Each of the 13 providers has its own special offers, generally based on age, income or state residency. Taxpayers can review each offer or can use the “Help Me” tool to find the tax-filing software they are eligible to use. Free File offers easy-to-use products that ask questions and you supply the answers. The software will find the right forms, tax credits and deductions, and even do the math for you!
- TurboTax Freedom Edition – is available to taxpayers with an income of $31,000 or less, or those eligible to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
- Second Story TaxAct – to qualify for free tax preparation, a taxpayer’s income must be $50,000 or less, and the filer must be 58 years old or younger.
- H&R Block’s Free File – offers free online assistance for taxpayers who earned $62,000 or less, between 18 and 50 years old as of December 31, 2015.
- Online Taxes (OLT) – offers free tax preparation services to taxpayers with an income between $13,000 and $62,000 in 2015.
Now, if you have already filed your taxes and want to know when you will receive your refund, be sure to download the IRS app, IRS2Go! This app is available in both English and Spanish and gives taxpayers the ability to check on the status of their tax refund, obtain tax records, find free tax preparation providers, and stay connected with the IRS through social media channels such as YouTube and Twitter.
Please note that VA does not endorse any of these sites, but brings your attention to them as they have free tax services available specifically for Veterans and their families.
About the author: Richard Keeling is a senior tax analyst at the Internal Revenue Service.