Free Tax Help: 4 Ways to Get It

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

You know you have to do your tax return, but with the tax laws as complicated as they are, it's tougher than ever to get the job done. If you need help but don't want to pay through the nose to get it, here are some resources that can get you the assistance you need at a price that's right: free.

1. Go Straight to the IRS.

The first place to look for help with your tax return is at the IRS website. With a variety of lists of frequently asked questions, tax topic discussions, forms and publications, and other helpful materials, you may well get the answers you need online.

If you don't, though, the IRS is standing by with its toll-free tax assistance line. Call (800) 829-1040 to get help on your individual tax return questions.

2. Get Free Help In-Person.

The IRS also sponsors volunteer programs aimed at helping millions of taxpayers prepare their returns. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program covers those who make $51,000 or less in income and have a particular emphasis on special tax credits aimed at low-income taxpayers.

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Meanwhile, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program is aimed at those who are 60 or older, with help on how to deal with pension, retirement, and other tax issues that affect older taxpayers.

To find a VITA site near you, use this IRS link. For the TCE, many sites are operated by AARP's Tax Aide Program; click here to find a site near you.

3. Put the Taxpayer Advocate On Your Side.

If you have a dispute with the IRS and aren't getting the treatment you deserve, the Taxpayer Advocate Service can help. This free service helps taxpayers around the country handle IRS problems and resolve disputes by getting the responses you need. Click here to get more information, or this link will take you directly to contact information for your Taxpayer Advocate.

4. Beware of Scams.

Unfortunately, taking advantage of those seeking tax help is one way scam artists get sensitive information like your Social Security number or bank-account information. Email is the most common method these scammers use, but fake websites can often lure unsuspecting taxpayers into giving up their information. The best solution is to stick with known reputable sources of free information. If you get a suspicious email, contact the IRS here.

You can follow Motley Fool contributor Dan Caplinger on Twitter @DanCaplinger or on Google+.

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