This post is brought to you by MyFreeTaxes and The Motherhood. All opinions are 100% honest and 100% my own.
I’ve always been a little bit of a tax nerd. That trend probably started because I didn’t make a whole lot of money, and getting a big refund can feel like a financial windfall.
But also, I don’t actually mind sifting through the numbers. I almost enjoy going through the tax code to learn more about new deductions I can take and credits I can claim. Maybe I was an accountant in another life.
I’m so into it that when my husband and I first met one Spring many years ago, I filed his return for him. It was one of the first times we hung out. He mentioned he had to go in to get them filed–and pay the fee to do so. He had a very simple return. Only one W-2 from his only source of income as a single person.
I told him that was silly, and that I’d help him file it for free.
Me “helping” turned into me doing the return while he sat there and did something completely different, but he was really appreciative.
Stop Paying to File Your Taxes
I’m weird. I know that most people don’t enjoy tax season. Filing can feel complex, and frankly, sometimes it is.
But last year–just like my husband all those years ago–one-third of millennials paid to have their tax returns filed even though they didn’t have to. In fact, 70% of Americans qualify for free tax filing.
That’s unacceptable to me. Lack of awareness is costing people money.
Today I have an awesome solution to this problem: a way to file your taxes for completely free. Even if you’re self-employed. Even if you have to file a bunch of extra forms that look like alphabet soup.
MyFreeTaxes from the United Way
In the past, I’ve written about the VITA program from the United Way. If you make $54,000 or less, you can schedule an in-person appointment to get your taxes filed for zero dollars.
I’ve used them in the past and they’re amazing, but if you want an appointment, be sure to schedule it this very minute as the slots fill up extremely quickly.
This year, though, I learned about another free program from the United Way that serves even more people. You don’t have to schedule any appointments. In fact, you don’t even have to leave your living room.
MyFreeTaxes is an online tax filing platform that allows you to file your taxes for free. Born of a partnership between the United Way and H&R Block, it’s incredibly easy to use both on your PC and on your phone with their mobile-optimized website. In fact, most filers who use the software file in under an hour.
How do I qualify for MyFreeTaxes?
In order to qualify for MyFreeTaxes, you must have an adjusted gross income (AGI) of under $66,000. That means that you can earn more than $66,000, but if deductions take you below that number, you still qualify.
If you’re freaking out because that’s a lot of math, take a deep breath. The software will figure your AGI out for you, and will tell you if you qualify or not.
Free Customer Support
Now you’re in the thick of filing your return, and you’re not 100% sure if you need to file an additional form on top of your 1040.
Luckily, MyFreeTaxes provides free customer support from IRS-certified specialists. Available in both English and Spanish, you can get in touch with one of these specialists via email, a telephone helpline, or the chat box.
Free Even for the Self-Employed
I know the pain of filing taxes as a self-employed person. At the very least, you have to file a Schedule C for profit/loss, and do some complex calculations to figure out your self-employment tax. Then you have to figure out how much of that tax is deductible.
There are some programs out there that will allow you to file for free–as long as you are only filing a basic 1040.
MyFreeTaxes is not one of them. No matter how complex your return, if you meet the income/AGI requirement, you will be able to file all the forms for free–even if you’re self-employed. Even if you have investment income.
File Your State Return for Free
One year I had to file three state returns. I had moved to another state halfway through the year, so I had to file in both. My partner at the time was in the military, so he got to file in his home state–which didn’t tax military income.
It was messy, but eventually we figured it out.
I wish MyFreeTaxes had been around back then, because they allow you to file returns for up to three states for free. This is a really big deal. A lot of the “free” programs will not allow you to file even one state return. You just get the federal 1040. But that’s not the case with MyFreeTaxes.
Where are the asterisks?
There are none. I know it’s hard to believe that anyone offers anything that’s truly free anymore, but MyFreeTaxes comes with no asterisks. It really is one hundred percent free.
It’s also the only tax filing software offered by a nonprofit. United Way fights for the financial stability of every person in every community.
I know this personally as I’ve used some of their programs before. They’re really invested in helping, and as a a nonprofit, they’re not interested in making any money off of you. Because of this, I find myself referring individual readers to them often.
I’m so glad to learn about an additional United Way program as it casts a wider net for free tax filing; you can earn a bit more money, be middle-class and still qualify. Because United Way is so dedicated in to their mission, I’m not surprised that since they launched, they’ve secured over $1 billion in refunds for almost one million tax filers.
Whether you’ll be deducting travel expenses for your sole proprietorships or you’re interested in maximizing credits like the EIC or Child Tax Credit, MyFreeTaxes will help you get it done without charging you a cent.
File Your Return Early to Avoid ID Theft
One more note: it’s important to file your taxes early to avoid tax identity theft. Essentially, the IRS awards the refund to whoever files your return first–you or the criminal. It’s a mess you’ll be lucky to sort out. This is especially true with all the data breaches in the past year.
So hop on it. Get started on your tax return today.
Wonderful post and super helpful to a lot of hard working people who shouldn’t have to pay to file! Love the last tip to file early, I didn’t know about that!
Yes, very important to file early. And agreed! If you’re getting a return and it’s not because you purposefully were liberal with your high income contributions, it seems kind of sleazy for someone to take money from you to file. Especially because so many families just have basic W-2 returns.
I, too, oddly enjoy filing taxes. It’s the numbers and the paperwork. For some reason, I enjoy paperwork. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.
When I was dating my wife (well we still go on dates), she let me look through her past returns to see if I could determine if the free software she used got her the best return. I actually was able to get her $100 – $200 more from one of her returns that the tax software missed!
Also, I enjoy filing out tax forms so much I’m considering volunteering for the VITA program you mentioned.
Did I mention I’m weird?
Ha then count me weird, too! Have definitely thought about volunteering with VITA, but think I’m going to wait till my kids are a little older. Would be better to give myself a couple years to get familiar with the new tax code anyways, I guess.
And nice job on your wife’s return!
I HATE filing taxes, but I love this! I think it’s a great resource for those that qualify, and I love that it’s free even if you’re self-employed. That’s a good deal!
Amen! If you go and have someone file for you in person outside of the VITA program, they usually charge you extra for each form, and sometimes Schedule C can be just the beginning. So this is definitely an amazing price at $0! Haha.
Such a great deal! Thanks for sharing.
No problem! Hope it’s helpful!
I’m a tax nerd myself, but anything that helps people file and save money is a great thing!
EXACTLY. And to be honest, with self-employment income it’s faster to have a program like this do the calculations for you. I still can do it myself, and am familiar enough with the math to spot if something’s way off (which hasn’t happened to me with MyFreeTaxes), but for the sake of time, it can still be amazing.
What a helpful post. It can be so costly to have someone fill out your taxes. I love that you mentioned Vita where you can get a live person to help you. It helps a lot of people feel more comfortable if they can talk to a person about their taxes.