Why Do Your Own Taxes When VITA Will Do ’Em For You Free

by John Wenz

Chances are, you’re a young person with the kind of income that doesn’t put you close to a Rockefeller, and you might be trying to figure out how to get your taxes done. As somebody in their fourth year as a site coordinator of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, I can say this much: don’t go to a commercial preparer; do go get them done for free.

Everybody loves that word! Free! It just rolls off the tongue. VITA is a program run by the IRS that connects community non-profits with tax training, then utilizes volunteers to run free, low-to-moderate income tax sites. Basically, if you make below $50,000 (which, let’s face it, is likely), most VITA sites will do your taxes for free.

It’s so win-win! And all the volunteers are IRS certified, having to test at various levels to prepare all sorts of taxes after a training period involving varied tax situation scenarios. Some things are outside the scope, but not relatively straight ahead Schedule C stuff. And if you’re a freelancer, that’s what you’re filling out for all that previously-untaxed money.

As a volunteer, I’m not even a paid shill here. I just love VITA programs, and want to tell the world, especially after some of the mega-chains, who shall not be named, have screwed over a friend or two.

Education credits? They can handle those. Just have a job or two? You could be out in 20 minutes and out of zero dollars and zero cents.

The IRS even has a handy VITA site finder for you to connect with a site. So really, you can’t lose, because you will be out zero money when you leave the site, and will get your refund within a week or two.

Like I said, I’m a volunteer, and I’m just doing this as a sort of PSA and not at the behest of any parent org or anything. I just love the program, hence the “fourth season doing this” thing. But this is win-win. The volunteers are IRS certified; you may not have any idea how to do your taxes beyond the TurboTax entry screens, and may not want to pay however much at the end. You should totally find a VITA site instead.

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