Seniors and retirees may be able to use online tax preparation software free of charge. Most low- and middle-income Americans qualify for the free help, but do not take advantage of it. And all seniors are eligible for free counseling assistance from the IRS.

The IRS Free File website links to the available free online tax preparation products. Each company with a free product on the IRS website sets its own eligibility standards based on income, age, and state residency. As long as your adjusted gross income was $69,000 or less, you will find at least one free product to use. There are also two products that are in Spanish.  If you have a question about the IRS Free File Program, you may contact the IRS at freefile@irs.gov.

If you would rather not prepare your own tax return, seniors can use the IRS’s Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program. The TCE program is available to taxpayers who are 60 years old or older and specializes in answering questions about pensions and retirement plans.

Another free program that may be useful is the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The VITA program offers free tax help to people who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns.

Before going to a VITA or TCE site, see Publication 3676-B (PDF) for services provided and check out the What to Bring page to ensure you have all the required documents and information our volunteers will need to help you.

(Adapted from an article on the ElderLawAnswers website. Mr. Vanarelli is a founding member of ElderLawAnswers.)

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