Filing taxes, it’s the dreaded task we all have to do every year and most of us pay an arm and a leg to have someone prepare them. Tax preparation fees are very costly. Most CPAs will charge $200 per return and some agencies like H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt can charge $100-200 per return. Some preparers will charge you more based on the complexity of your return. Meaning, if you have a lot of schedules and forms to be completed, preparers may charge you extra. In fact, a study done in 2010 by the National Society of Accountants, shows that households pay on average $229 to have their taxes filed.
According to an article I read from NPR, (An analysis of data from the Census Bureau) says that half of the households in the United States make under $50,000 and that 1 out of 4 homes earn less than $25,000. That’s a lot of households that earn under $50,000 per year and I bet the majority of them pay to have their taxes filed.
Did you know that all of these households can be eligible to have their taxes filed for FREE? The VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program is provided by the IRS, and households who earn less than $66,000 (updated number for Ohio) and can have their taxes filed for free by a professional. Call 211 to find out if you qualify for VITA in your state/county. Disabled and elderly individuals may qualify for VITA as well. According to the IRS, 145 million tax returns were prepared in 2012. If half of those can be done for free, that’s a savings of $16.6 Billion for consumers (I know it won’t be that much because not everyone pays to have their taxes filed, but it’s still a lot of savings).
Contact your public library, Community Action Center, or even the United Way and they will tell you if there is an organization in your area that is offering free tax help.
Another great way to save money this tax season is to have your tax refund directly deposited into your checking account. Don’t pay huge fees to have your tax check cashed instantly or to have it expedited to you. If you file electronically then you should have your direct deposit in about 2 weeks and it won’t cost you a penny.