BROOKE’S BARGAINS: Options getting free help to prepare your taxes

BROOKE’S BARGAINS: Options getting free help to prepare your taxes
(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic) (Source: Keith Srakocic)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The IRS starts processing tax returns on Monday, Jan 27.

It may not be the news you wanted to hear – but we have some good news to report about this tax season, too.

On Friday, Jan. 17, the government will launch its Free File program, allowing taxpayers with an adjusted gross income below $69,000 to file a tax return for free.

Free File uses software from established providers, such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block.

You can use the program for federal and state tax returns - but fewer than three million filers have done so in recent years, so the IRS is trying to make it more user-friendly.

Launched in 2003, "Free File’ has saved those who’ve used it a collective $1.7 billion. And there are other benefits: you’ll get free direct deposit of your refund, meaning quicker access to your money.

You’ll find the forms HERE.

Free Tax Prep Options For Military Personnel

The IRS Free File is also offered to some active duty military personnel.

“The IRS takes special steps to help military members and their families with their taxes, and the Free File program is part of that effort,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Almost 10% of the IRS workforce are veterans. We greatly appreciate the service to the nation of every veteran and their supportive families, and we will do all we can to assist them.”

For active duty military and their spouses, Free File has a special offer. Individuals and their families who meet the income limitation ($69,000 and under per year) may choose from any of nine companies without regard to additional eligibility requirements.

The nine special offers are from 1040Now, Inc., FileYourTaxes.com, Free tax Returns.com, H&R Block, On-Line Taxes, Inc., Tax ACT, TaxHawk, Inc., TaxSlayer (English and Spanish) and TurboTax.

Active duty military stationed in combat zones also have more time to file their tax returns. However, those with spouses and families may opt to file as soon as they are able to claim various tax benefits for which they may be eligible. If only one spouse is present to file a joint return, they must have proper authorization to file a joint tax return on behalf of their spouse.

Generally, each Free File partner sets additional eligibility requirements that civilian taxpayers must meet. Non-military personnel should use the “look up” tool at IRS.gov/FreeFile to find the best match.

Military members can get more information on their special tax benefits at IRS.gov/military.

We also want to let you know about free tax help designed for military families through Military OneSource, a Department of Defense program. Through MilTax, service members and their families can access free tax preparation and e-filing software, and get help with military-specific situations, plus many more resources. This suite of tax services is free for service members and their families and you can find information here.

United Way Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program Begins Jan. 30

While taxpayers have already been through the first year of the 2018 tax law, those changes may still be complex to many wage-earners.

To assist taxpayers, free and professional filing assistance is now available through United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona for individuals and families earning up to $66,000 annually. Through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, the organization is hosting seven tax return preparation sites across Southern Arizona, staffed by IRS-certified volunteers, who will help taxpayers maximize their refunds.

VITA tax preparation is offered as a free service and saves taxpayers an average of $250 per return. The program helps taxpayers access all tax credits for which they are eligible – including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), and has become an essential service to thousands of Arizona residents.

Those seeking quality tax preparation assistance at no cost should visit www.unitedwaytucson.org/vita for complete information about locations, schedules and required documents. In addition to the on-site services at the seven locations, tax filers also have the option of filing on their own using free, easy, and secure interview-style online software. A third option is Valet VITA where tax filers can have their documents scanned, and then pick up the completed return at a later date or have it sent to them via encrypted email. Please visit www.unitedwaytucson.org/freefile for more information on all options.

MVD Helps You Get Ready For Tax Time

The dawn of a new year also means tax season is bearing down and the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division is ready to help customers with 2019 fee and tax information.

Vehicle owners can go to www.servicearizona.com and quickly get their vehicle fee and tax information by clicking on the “Vehicle Fees/Taxes Paid 2019” link listed on the home page. The service is free.

“MVD is happy to provide this service to help make the tax season a little bit easier,” said MVD Stakeholder Relations Manager Jennifer Bowser Richards. “Getting the information in one place that’s easy to print out or copy electronically is a lot easier than going out to the garage and then making copies of your registration papers.”

All vehicles, including autos, trucks, ATVs, trailers, street-legal golf carts, among others will have the information available.

More information: www.servicearizona.com

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