Free Tax Help

Where to get help with your taxes—for free

Couple working on taxes together in an office

 kate_september2004 / Getty Images

A variety of nonprofits, universities, and even local Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offices provide tax preparation assistance and tax problem resolution services to the public for free. It's just a matter of knowing where to look, what programs you qualify for, and identifying your particular needs.

Key Takeaways

  • The IRS and the federal government offer numerous tax assistance programs subject to certain qualifying rules.
  • The rules are typically related to your income or your age.
  • Members of the armed forces can get help through Military OneSource.
  • IRS Free File is available beginning in January if you don't necessarily need tax help but just want to complete and file your return. Income restrictions apply.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA)

VITA is manned by a community of IRS-certified volunteers who provide tax preparation services for people who earn $60,000 or less as of November 2022. Taxpayers with disabilities and those who have limited English language skills are also eligible.

VITA is funded partly by grants from the IRS, and it has community locations in shopping malls, schools, and libraries. Most are available from February through April, but some remain open until the filing extension deadline in October.

VITA will help you prepare your tax return, and most locations will e-file your tax return for you as well. You can find a local VITA site by searching on the IRS tool provided online, or you can call toll free at 800-906-9887.

Tax Counseling for the Elderly

Tax Counseling for the Elderly is a program that's also funded in part by grants from the IRS, which partners with local nonprofit organizations to provide training to volunteers so they can help senior citizens prepare their tax returns. You must be age 60 or older to qualify, and the program offers both tax preparation and counseling services. You can find a Tax Counseling for the Elderly location by calling toll free at 888-227-7669.

AARP Tax-Aide

AARP provides free tax preparation for people with low to moderate incomes. These services are operated very similarly to the VITA and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs. You can find a local Tax-Aide site by calling toll free 888-227-7669 or by visiting the AARP Tax-Aide website, where you can enter your zip code to search for nearby locations. The search tool is offline in autumn months but it's expected to be available again in January 2023.

The Armed Forces Tax Council

The Armed Forces Tax Council is part of the IRS-funded VITA program. It provides free tax preparation assistance for military personnel. Volunteers are specially trained in the types of tax issues that are frequently encountered by people who work in the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

Military OneSource additionally provides free access to H&R Block At Home if you want to prepare your own return. Visit its website to learn more, or speak to a tax adviser at no charge by calling the Military OneSource Tax Hotline at 800-342-9647. You can live chat with a counselor or consultant as well by clicking on the appropriate link on the website.


You might want to call ahead to schedule an appointment before visiting any of these free tax preparation sites. Availability of volunteers can vary.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics

The Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Program (LITC) provides free or low-cost assistance to taxpayers who need help resolving tax problems, such as income tax audits and collection disputes over outstanding tax debts. It can provide legal representation to those who must go to tax court to resolve problems. The clinics also provide assistance to people whose primary language isn't English.

Nonprofits, universities, and law schools operate LITCs. They receive some funding from the IRS, and they're supervised by the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). The IRS provides a directory of tax clinics. A search tool is provided at the bottom of the webpage.

The program is designed to help people and families with income that doesn't exceed 250% of the federal poverty line. The amount of money in dispute should be less than $50,000 per tax year. But each individual clinic will ultimately determine whether a taxpayer meets their criteria.

Taxpayer Assistance Centers

Taxpayer Assistance Centers can't help you prepare a tax return, but they'll provide free assistance in setting up payment plans, understanding letters from the IRS, and resolving tax problems. They'll review your documents before filing to make sure you have everything in order.


Unfortunately, these centers are located predominantly in larger cities. You might not find one conveniently nearby. You'll need an appointment, so call ahead.

Taxpayer Advocate Service

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) can help you resolve tax problems if you've been unable to resolve them by dealing directly with the IRS. Maybe you received a notice from the IRS that you just don't understand, or you owe taxes that you simply can't pay. TAS will be able to advise you of your rights if you have a more serious problem.

TAS provides a search tool on its website to lead you to the phone numbers and addresses of their offices in your state.

IRS Free File

Maybe you don't have a problem with your taxes and you don't really need a professional to prepare your return for you, but you don't want to pay a lot of money for tax preparation software. The program is a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Program, a group of software providers who offer free tax return preparation software to those who qualify.

Free File is available only during tax season. The IRS indicates that it will open again in January 2023.

What To Take With You to Your Appointment

You'll need certain documents if you decide to ask for free tax help from any of these sources. Be sure to take them and other pertinent information with you, including:

  • All of your W-2 and 1099 forms for the tax year
  • A copy of last year's tax return
  • Social Security cards for yourself, your spouse and dependents
  • A driver's license or another form of photo ID
  • Birth dates for yourself, your spouse, and any dependents, as well as their Social Security numbers
  • Routing and account number information for your bank account if you want the IRS to directly deposit any refund you might be entitled to
  • Health insurance statements for coverage you paid for if your insurer hasn't provided you with a Form 1095 that chronicles this information

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are there any income restrictions for qualifying for Free File?

IRS Free File has you covered if you earned $73,000 or less. You can still get free tax forms at the Free File website, no matter your annual income, but you'll have to fill them out yourself.

Is the Taxpayer Advocate Service part of the IRS?

The Taxpayer Advocate Service reports directly to Congress. It's an organization independent from the IRS.

Updated by Jess Feldman
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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. IRS. "Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers."

  2. IRS. "Tax Counseling for the Elderly."

  3. Military OneSource. "Taxes."

  4. "Low Income Taxpayer Clinic."

  5. IRS. "Free File: Do Your Taxes for Free."

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