tax returns

Here's Where San Diegans Can Find Free Tax Prep Services Before April 18 Deadline

The IRS encourages taxpayers to use the free tax assistance tools available to them

There is only one week remaining for most Americans to file their taxes, and some people could be feeling overwhelmed right now with the federal deadline looming.

Filing an accurate, online return with direct deposit may avoid processing delays, stalled refunds and future IRS notices, so it's crucial to have all the required forms for a complete and error-free return, the Internal Revenue Service said in a statement. Incomplete information could also cost people tax-savings opportunities.

Only 1 out of every 225 tax returns are inspected by an IRS agent, so your odds of getting audited are low, NBCLX Political Editor Noah Pransky says. He explains how the agency has been underfunded over the past several years and why audits are more likely for low-income taxpayers.

"The pandemic continues to create challenges, but the IRS reminds people there are important steps they can take to help ensure their tax return and refund don’t face processing delays," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Filing electronically with direct deposit and avoiding a paper tax return is more important than ever this year. And we urge extra attention to those who received an Economic Impact Payment or an advance Child Tax Credit last year. People should make sure they report the correct amount on their tax return to avoid delays.”

The IRS began accepting and processing tax returns on Jan. 24, and the deadline to file 2021 tax returns and pay tax owed is Monday, April 18.

The IRS is encouraging people to use online resources before calling, noting that last season the agency received more than 145 million calls between Jan. 1 and May 17, as a result of COVID-era tax changes and broader pandemic challenges.

“Our phone volumes continue to remain at record-setting levels,” Rettig said. “We urge people to check IRS.gov and establish an online account to help them access information more quickly. We have invested in developing new online capacities to make this a quick and easy way for taxpayers to get the information they need.”

In addition to IRS.gov, there are a variety of free options available to help taxpayers, ranging from free assistance at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly locations across the country to the availability of the IRS Free File program.

If you're looking to file for free, check out these resources to help get you through the 2021 tax season:

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $58,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their tax returns.

IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.

VITA sites are located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other locations across the country.

To locate the nearest VITA site near you, use the VITA Locator Tool here or call 800-906-9887.

Tax Counseling for the Elderly

The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program provides free tax assistance to people who are 60 and older.

IRS-certified volunteers provide free assistance and basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals at community locations across the nation. 

To locate TCE sites near you, use the TCE locator tool here or call 888-227-7669.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide provides in-person and virtual tax assistance, free of charge, to taxpayers who are over 50 and have low to moderate income. Tax-Aide volunteers are located nationwide, and are trained and IRS-certified every year to make sure they know about and understand the latest changes and additions to the tax code.

Tax-Aide sites are currently open for the 2022 tax season. This year, tax assistance is available by appointment only. To locate the nearest AARP TCE Tax-Aide site between January and April use the AARP Site Locator Tool or call 888-227-7669.

Financial Assistance & Taxes - 211 San Diego

Officials at 211 San Diego have pulled together a host of resources, including including information and links regarding the state and federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

San Diegans can all call 211 for help: "Many individuals and families in the San Diego region face financial obstacles that prevent them from a healthy and quality life. We can help people access financial assistance and public benefits to help them get back on their feet. Call 211 to learn more about available resources. "

United Way of San Diego County

The United Way can help San Diegans connect with people through the volunteer income tax assistance (VITA) program – free, licensed assistance preparing returns.

"Last year, the Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition helped 25,250 San Diego County households file their taxes for free," according to the United Way of San Diego County, which said that they were able to help people get more than $42 million in refunds, in addition to more than $14 million in federal EITC. They also claim to have been able save people paying nearly $6 million in tax-preparation fees.

While in-person assistance is a must for some people, many more can qualify for help from United Way’s myfreetaxes.com -- the largest free tax preparation service operated by a nonprofit. The site has no income limit or age restrictions and supports unlimited state returns. It is free for all filers, with no option for paid add-ons or fees. It offers IRS-certified 211 call specialists to assist filers as well as connections to a VITA site if in-person assistance is needed. United Way makes this service available to reach the millions who will qualify for free assistance but may not be able to access a VITA site.

Dreams for Change

The organization is offering free help to low and moderate income families to prepare their returns.

This local VITA site also offers EITC "assistance to low income, seniors, and disabled individuals in San Diego County."

For more information on tax assistance services, visit irs.gov.

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