Paying upwards of $100 for the privilege of filing taxes sounds about as fun as paying for the privilege of someone flicking on your light switch to make your dishwasher miraculously work again {don't ask}.

You may have a very good reason to be paying for tax return preparation. Perhaps you don't have the time or desire to learn about the tax code and feel that you will probably miss important deductions if you did the return yourself. Maybe your tax situation is so complex that it is a much better idea for you to pay someone for their services (taxes confusing? who knew…).

But what if you could get your taxes filed for you without paying a dime?

If you make less than $58,000 a year, then I'm going to show you how to get your online tax return prepared for free. And if you're a DIYer or you make more than $58,000, I'll show you some free resources to get those pesky questions answered so that you can file your own federal income tax return for free.

Free Federal and State Income Tax Help and Filing with Income Limits

  • Get Someone to Prepare and File for You for Free: I took advantage of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program when I was in college. Taxpayers with incomes under $52,000 can have their federal and state taxes prepared for them by IRS volunteer assistants. You can find a VITA site by plugging your zip code into this website. Also, AARP has a Tax Aide Program where you can have your federal and state taxes filed for you (especially for people aged 60+, but they take us younger folks, too).
  • File Yourself for Free: Taxpayers with incomes below $58,000 in 2013 are eligible for a free tax software product from one of 14 different tax filing companies. This offers assistance by prompts and calculations within the software. allows you to file your own federal and state income tax returns for free if you earn less than $58,000.

Free Federal Income Tax Help and Filing Regardless of Income

  • Free Forms to Fill Out: The IRS has partnered with 20 tax preparation software companies to offer a free federal income tax filing for everyone. Go to the IRS Free File website for a free fillable federal tax form.
  • Free Software to Work and are two sites that offer free federal tax preparation software for everyone.

Free Federal and State Tax Preparation for Active Military Personnel

  • Get Someone to Prepare and File Your Taxes for Free: The Armed Forces Tax Council provides free tax preparation services for active military personnel and their families in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. They are trained for military-specific tax situations, and act as the coordinator for the VITA program mentioned above. Call 1-800-518-9748 for more information.
  • Free Software to Fill OutTaxSlayer offers active military personnel free tax software to file your federal and state income tax for free. is another great resource. You can complete, save, and file your federal and up to three state returns online for free. You will need to register for the Military OneSource program and use the link through that page in order to get the free tax filing.

Free Tax Question Help

Filling out your own taxes this year? No matter what your income, you can use the advice my aunt gave me several years ago: call the IRS directly with your questions (thanks, Aunt Nancy!). While it can be a long wait on the phone as the tax deadline approaches, you will eventually be connected to someone who can help you. The general assistance line is 1-800-829-1040. For businesses and specialty help, call 1-800-829-4933.

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 10 years, her money work helping people with how to save money and how to manage money has been featured in Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here.
16 replies
  1. Kayla Rogers says:

    It is so awesome that taxpayers with lower incomes are eligible for free tax software! Oftentimes, I still struggle with the software, because I don’t know where to find all of my documents. Thus, I’ll probably stick to professional help!

  2. Robert Melton says:

    Two years have passed and this is still helpful information! I would add that those looking for free tax preparation assistance should seek help early as these resources can get very busy as the tax deadline approaches.

  3. bryan flake says:

    It makes a lot of sense to just be patient for your tax return. In my life, I have seen larger returns the longer they took to get to me. I’m sure that isn’t a fool proof idea, but it has made me a believer.

  4. Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    We make too much to get free tax preparation. Many online tax packages, like TurboTax and TaxAct are free for Federal, but then they charge you for your state. I have been using TaxAct for many years because they are generally less expensive than TurboTax or HR Block online.

  5. Dana Twight, CFP says:

    Thanks, Amanda for including resources for servicemembers. In our state the VITA service is often coordinated by United Way. Also people across the country can call the short number 211 for information about free and confidential information and referral in their location, or visit

    • FruGal says:

      You are welcome! Thank you for your input about 211.

  6. Paul @ The Frugal Toad says:

    Thanks for the reminder Amanda! I’ve always done my own taxes but it’s always a good idea to get professional advice!

  7. Jai Catalano says:

    I have a family accountant I use but the information here is great. I have actually called the IRS a few times. Man is that wait long. Thank god for speaker phones.

  8. Jon - Free Money Wisdom says:

    I just found out that I won’t be getting anything back from the government this year. It makes me happy to know that I didn’t lend a single penny to the government. I maximized my profits rather than theirs. Good article. 🙂

  9. Derek says:

    Great tips Amanda! I’ll be referencing this article again soon. Thanks!

  10. JP @ Novel Investor says:

    I’ve been doing taxes online for years now and the convenience is worth it. Even though you may get the federal free eFile, many still charge for the state filing. But you can also mail the state return in yourself.

    • FruGal says:

      Love the convenience. But yes–you can paper file many state tax returns for free.

      I am fortunate in that this state and the last one I lived in do not have state income tax. Hurrah! (Texas and Florida).


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