Do I need an enrolled agent?
Not every taxpayer needs to hire an enrolled agent. I am going to cover some resources below available to those taxpayers. Please keep in mind that I am available to discuss your situation even if you fall into one of the categories below.
Half of the taxpayers reading this do not need my services to prepare their individual income taxes. The IRS partners with several different tax software providers to give you free access to the company's tax software from the IRS.GOV web site. If you make $64,000.00 or less (this means you and your spouse together, if you file jointly), you can use the tax software for free. The software companies may charge a fee to electronically file your federal return and to prepare your state return, but usually the fee is minimal. Check out the software for electronic filing prices before you begin entering your data into the program. If you , and your spouse, filing jointly, have W2 income only , and meet the income limits mentioned above, consider filing your income tax with IRS Freefile, the software made available to you from IRS.gov.
If your income is less than $54,000 or you are disabled and you want assistance, you can contact the VITA. organization in your area. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) tax preparers take courses certified by the IRS. Tax preparation is free. There are certain forms these tax assistants will not handle. If your tax situation is too complex for VITA they will tell you during your intake interview. You may have to wait a bit to see a VITA agent as their are many people who want tax assistance, and you can find a link to the VITA center locator on the IRS website here. Watch a video on Getting Started with FeeFile here.
Tax Counseling for the Elderly , or TCE, is a free service for taxpayers over 60. This service specializes in retirement and pension income questions.
If you use the freefile software, make sure you enter the information from all of the boxes on all of your W2 forms. The IRS is piloting W-2 verification codes for filing season 2017 to reduce fraud. If you are one of the 50 millions taxpayers who sees a W-2 Verification Code on your W-2, be sure to enter the code into your tax software. It may result in a faster processing of your tax return.
If you go to a VITA or TCE office make sure you take your current driver's license and Social Security card with you for your appointment. Take all W2's as well. If you file a joint return, your spouse will need the same documents. Check out their document requirements before you go to your appointment. A link to their what to bring guide can be found here.