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Where to find legitimate, free tax filing services

It is tax time. Many of us file using a free tax preparation service. One company that advertises free filing is misleading taxpayers.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Zero dollars to file taxes sounds like a great deal, especially if you ended up owing money to the IRS. Yet, some free filers had to pay. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently found TurboTax’s free service is not actually no cost.

The FTC took legal action against TurboTax to stop its deceptive advertising. The FTC said about 66 percent of people who wanted to file for free learned they needed to upgrade to a paid service to complete their taxes only after submitting sensitive personal and financial information. Taxpayers need to be careful because commercial tax preparation services only offer very few services that are no cost.

If you go directly to a website such as TurboTax, it’s limited,” said Kemberly Washington of Forbes Advisor. “It's only certain files or certain forms you can use when using those websites.”

There are legitimate, free ways to file your taxes.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program or VITA in San Antonio offers free in-person help to taxpayers that make $55,000 or less. Contact VITA by calling 211.

You can also use the IRS Free File Program if your income is less than $73,000. It uses free guided tax preparation software for your federal taxes. You might be able to prepare and file your state taxes for free, too, depending on your income and which IRS partner site you use.

Military service members and veterans can use the Department of Defense’s MilTax program to file for free. There are no income limits but there are eligibility requirements.  

There are plenty of free options, just ask what the qualifications are before you begin to file. The tax deadline is April 18.

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