How to Get Your Taxes Done for Free

By Brandon Ballenger

NEW YORK (MoneyTalksNews) — Tax season is finally here — the IRS began accepting returns on Jan. 30. But before you rush to make an expensive appointment, check out cheaper options.

Estimates suggest Americans spend more than $100 billion a year on tax preparation. But according to the IRS, 70% of Americans are eligible for free professional tax preparation and filing software. If you wouldn’t pass up an easy deduction, why would you overpay to file?

In the video below, Money Talks News founder and CPA Stacy Johnson has one of the most popular tax hacks around — where to get taxes done free. Check it out, then read on for more details.

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As you saw in the video, there are different options depending on your age and income level — but practically everybody has some option cheaper than a tax pro …

2012 income below $51,000? Free in-person help

Check out the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. They offer free preparation from trained volunteers, complete with information on tax credits you might qualify for. Most include free electronic filing as well.

There are thousands of locations across the country in schools, libraries, malls and community centers. You can look up free tax prep locations by ZIP code — there were five within as many miles in my area, and only one required appointments. You can also call 1-800-906-9887 to find a location.

Although many take walk-ins — providing they show up with all their paperwork — it’s probably a good idea to make an appointment just in case. The closer to Tax Day (April 15) we get, the more hectic things will be.