I’d like to update the old adage of “nothing is certain but death or
taxes,” and clarify it to add “…and doing those taxes will almost always
be confusing.” No matter how hard the letters “EZ” at the end of the
simple 1040 form try to lull us into a sense that taxes can be
easy-breezy, it’s likely that while preparing your taxes, you’ll run
into a question that you just aren’t sure how to answer.
Thankfully, you don’t have to wade through pages and pages of complex IRS instructions, trying to decipher the tax code all by your lonesome. Nor do you have to pay a tax professional hundreds of dollars to add and subtract every line on your tax form. If you feel confident preparing your taxes on your own and just need a little help along the way, there are several places where you can get free tax advice from experts–even the IRS itself!
Here are six places where you can get totally free tax advice:
1. The IRS
The Internal Revenue Service–what might feel like the U.S. Government’s biggest and most threatening institution (at least to your wallet)–wants to help you. Seriously. That’s why the IRS offers a toll-free hotline where individuals can call for answers to tax questions. Because really, who better to ask for clarification than the people who made the rules in the first place? The IRS’s number is 1-800-829-1040, and the service is available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
The IRS also offers free tax preparation for members of qualifying communities, including “low-to moderate-income (generally, $49,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns” and the elderly. More information is available on the IRS’s Free Tax Return page.
Tax-prep software provider TurboTax offers the TurboTax Live Community. Open to everyone–whether or not you’re a TurboTax user–TurboTax Live allows taxpayers to post, read, and answer tax questions about both federal and state returns. Some of the questions are answered by actual TurboTax professionals, but many are answered by other users, including “Super Users” who are active in the community and whose answers have been highly rated by others.
TurboTax also has a free edition of their online tax preparation for completing simple federal tax returns.
3. H&R Block
Similar to TurboTax, H&R Block offers an online community called Get It Right where taxpayers can ask questions and read responses to already-answered ones. The community features several registered tax professionals who respond to users. The H&R Block Twitter feed is also a source of tips and answers about common tax questions, as well as the company’s tax calculator and tips section.
H&R Block offers free simple federal filing.
4. Tax Blogs and Sites
Several tax blogs and sites offer free advice to readers:
- Tax Mama (“tax information with a mother’s touch”) provides expert answers to your questions on its forums.
- Tax professional and author Roni Deutch (“The Tax Lady”) posts responses to questions she receives on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, along with other tax advice and news.
- David Greenslit, CPA, of the Tax Tips Blog, also accepts reader questions along with posting regular advice. David does note that “Though I am busy this time of year, I’ll see what I can do”–basically, a response is not guaranteed.
- About.com’s Guide to Taxes, William Perez, offers extensive advice and has an active forum for tax discussion.
5. The U.S. Military
Military.com has a tax guide specifically designed for those serving in the military and their families. There is a focus on special tax breaks and considerations for members of the armed forces, plus advice posts from military tax professionals.
According to Military.com, most military installations also offer free, on-base tax preparation.