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Free Tax Help: 4 Ways to Get It

Justin Sullivan, Getty ImagesYou know you have to do your tax return, but with the tax laws as complicated as they are, it's tougher than ever to get the job done. If you need help but don't want to pay through the nose to get it, here are some resources that can get you the assistance you need at a price that's right: free.

1. Go Straight to the IRS.

The first place to look for help with your tax return is at the IRS website. With a variety of lists of frequently asked questions, tax topic discussions, forms and publications, and other helpful materials, you may well get the answers you need online.

If you don't, though, the IRS is standing by with its toll-free tax assistance line. Call (800) 829-1040 to get help on your individual tax return questions.

2. Get Free Help In-Person.

The IRS also sponsors volunteer programs aimed at helping millions of taxpayers prepare their returns. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program covers those who make $51,000 or less in income and have a particular emphasis on special tax credits aimed at low-income taxpayers.

Meanwhile, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program is aimed at those who are 60 or older, with help on how to deal with pension, retirement, and other tax issues that affect older taxpayers.

To find a VITA site near you, use this IRS link. For the TCE, many sites are operated by AARP's Tax Aide Program; click here to find a site near you.

3. Put the Taxpayer Advocate On Your Side.

If you have a dispute with the IRS and aren't getting the treatment you deserve, the Taxpayer Advocate Service can help. This free service helps taxpayers around the country handle IRS problems and resolve disputes by getting the responses you need. Click here to get more information, or this link will take you directly to contact information for your Taxpayer Advocate.

4. Beware of Scams.

Unfortunately, taking advantage of those seeking tax help is one way scam artists get sensitive information like your Social Security number or bank-account information. Email is the most common method these scammers use, but fake websites can often lure unsuspecting taxpayers into giving up their information. The best solution is to stick with known reputable sources of free information. If you get a suspicious email, contact the IRS here.

You can follow Motley Fool contributor Dan Caplinger on Twitter @DanCaplinger or on Google+.

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Cities with the Lowest Tax Rates

The total amount of tax you pay reaches far beyond what you owe the federal government. Depending on where you live, most likely you're required to pay additional taxes, including property and sales tax. The disparity between the amount of tax you pay in a low-tax city and that in a high-tax city can be dramatic. Living in any of these 10 cities could save you a bundle, although the exact amount may fluctuate based on your income and lifestyle choices.

Cities with the Highest Tax Rates

Much ado is made in the press about federal tax brackets, but cities can carry a tax bite of their own. Even if you live in a state that has no income tax, your city may levy a variety of taxes that could eat away the entire benefit of living in an income tax-free state, including property taxes, sales taxes and auto taxes. Consider all the costs before you move to one of these cities, and understand that rates may change based on your family's income level.

Great Ways to Get Charitable Tax Deductions

Generally, when you give money to a charity, you can use the amount of that donation as a deduction on your tax return. However, not all charities qualify as tax-deductible organizations. While there are many types of charities, they must all meet certain criteria to be classified by the IRS as tax-deductible organizations. There are legitimate tax-deductible organizations in many popular categories, such as those listed below.

A Freelancer's Guide to Taxes

Freelancing certainly has its benefits, but it can result in a few complications come tax time. The Internal Revenue Service considers freelancers to be self-employed, so if you earn income as a freelancer you must file your taxes as a business owner. While you can take additional deductions if you are self-employed, you'll also face additional taxes in the form of the self-employment tax. Here are things to consider as a freelancer when filing your taxes.

Tax Deductions for Voluntary Interest Payments on Student Loans

Most taxpayers who pay interest on student loans can take a tax deduction for the expense ? and you can do this regardless of whether you itemize tax deductions on your return. The rules for claiming the deduction are the same whether the interest payments were required or voluntary.

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Good post!

March 21 2013 at 7:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply