There are many options for filing taxes online in California, and OC FREE TAX PREP highlights two.
- Use MyFreeTaxes.com to prepare and file a basic federal tax return for free.
- Turn to VITA for assistance with preparing taxes and determining claims or deductions, as well as completing online filing.
Over the years, the process of preparing and filing taxes has changed. Long gone are the days of submitting paper returns. Technology has made it faster and easier than ever to file your taxes online with no wait. You can also opt to have your refund direct deposited. California residents have a lot of options when it comes to where and how to complete their taxes, and sometimes it can even be done for free.
Before you start plugging in your information, it’s a good idea to do a little research into available online tax software and programs. Some programs will claim they are free, but when you look closer, there are stipulations. For instance, many have age or adjusted gross income (AGI) requirements you must meet. In addition, if you have dependents or interest from investments, you may have to pay to upgrade to a higher-level package. You may also have to pay extra to file your California state tax return even if your federal return is free.
One point to note is that if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), this typically means you are eligible to file your federal return online for free. In some instances, even if you don’t qualify for the EITC, if you meet other requirements such as an income below a certain threshold (usually around $60,000), you could still have the option to file for free.
Get Help with Your Tax Return
One great – and free – option for California residents is MyFreeTaxes.com, powered by H&R Block. The OC FREE TAX PREP coalition has partnered with the United Way of Orange County, Citi, H&R Block, the IRS, and other organizations to improve filing options for low- and moderate-income households. Through this site, you can go online and file your taxes for free as the system walks you through each step of the process. You can feel confident that you are getting the most from your return and putting more money in your pocket. Some people may also qualify to file their California state tax return at no cost.
If you’re unsure about what documents you need, how to answer some of the questions, or whether you need to file a federal tax return at all, OC FREE TAX PREP has also joined forces with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to provide you access to the support you need. Volunteers will work with you to figure out any claims or deductions and maximize your refund and tax credits. To quality for VITA services, you typically have to have an AGI of $54,000 or less, have a disability, or be a limited English speaker.
Be Proactive About Your Taxes
It’s not too early to start planning for tax season. MyFreeTaxes.com and VITA are just two services that can assist you with filing your taxes online. Visit https://www.ocfreetaxprep.com/ to learn more and file with confidence this year.