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Why should you use a free tax preparation service?

Many people get help filing their taxes each year. Some use paid tax preparers even though they qualify for free tax help. Throughout the country, trained volunteers help people through the United Way Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. These volunteers are ready and able to help you file your taxes for free, saving the average person over $x in tax fees. Volunteers will make sure that your tax return is prepared correctly and make sure you get all the tax credits you qualify for.

Who qualifies for free tax preparation?

If you worked in 2020 and earned less than $57,000, you can come to one of Boston’s neighborhood tax preparation sites to have your taxes prepared and filed for free.* If you earn less than $72,000 and would like to file your tax return on your own, you can do so for free or at a very low-cost using Free File.

Where can I go for free tax preparation services?

Between January and April 15th, you can have your taxes prepared at one of our tax prep sites. The full list of drop off and virtual tax sites can be found here.

What do I need to bring to my tax prep appointment?

  • Your Email address and phone number
  • A Photo ID
  • Your Tax documents
    • Non-expired Photo ID required
    • Social Security Card or Individual Taxpayer ID Letter (ITIN) for you and everyone else on your tax return, including dependents and spouse
    • A copy of last year’s tax return
    • All 1099 forms- 1099G (unemployment), 1099 R (pension payments), 1099INT (bank interest), 1099SSA (Social Security), 1099 or self-employment
    • W2 forms from all jobs in 2020
    • Bank-issued printed account and routing numbers to direct deposit your tax refund into your account
    • Proof of health insurance (Health insurance cards, HC-1099 and 1095-A. 1095-C if applicable) for taxpayer, spouse, and all dependents*
    • If you received the premium tax credit, you must bring in a 1095A
    • Total child care expenses in 2020, and child care provider’s name, address, and Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Social Security Number (SSN)
    • All 1098T forms (tuition payments), college statements, receipts for materials
    • Total student loan interest paid (1098E) or lender statement
    • Proof of all rent paid in 2020
    • Proof of ANY deductible out of pocket expenses (annual BWSC, charitable receipts, property taxes)
    • Any mail from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and/or any mail from the IRS

What will happen at my tax prep appointment?

The Boston Tax Help Coalition is doing tax preparation remotely, using certified VITA volunteers. As part of the process you will:

  1. Be asked a series of questions
  2. Be asked to upload your tax documents using a scanner or your phone or drop off copies in person
  3. Schedule a call with a certified IRS tax preparer to finalize your return
  4. Submit your return

If I get a tax refund, what should I do with it?

Take some time to think about how you will spend your tax refund. Will you save some? Where will you save it? Will you spend some? If so, how much? This worksheet can help you make a plan! Want to learn more about budgeting? Check out this resource.

What other services are available?

You may qualify for an individual 20-minute Financial Check-Up credit counseling session where a trained volunteer will pull your credit report, review it with you, and work with you to create a credit building action plan.

The Financial Check-Up is offered as part of free tax preparation services through the Boston Tax Help Coalition and is available at the following locations in 2021:

  • Dot House Health | 1353 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester, MA
  • Roxbury Center for Financial Empowerment | 7 Palmer St, Roxbury, MA
  • JVS | 75 Federal St, Boston, MA 02110
  • Urban Edge | 1542 Columbus Ave, Roxbury, MA

Sometimes, one of our partners will host an event to offer the Financial Check-Up on its own, separate from tax preparation services. When these events are scheduled, they will be shared on our events calendar here.

*Please consult the tax prep site you wish to use to confirm eligibility.

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