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How and Where Low Income Families Can File Taxes For Free

If you earn less than $600 per year, you may not be required to file a tax return. You can, however, file a tax return showing zero income, which may be a good idea for several reasons. If you have to pay taxes, you can't (legally) avoid the process, but you can avoid paying tax professionals and software companies to prepare your taxes.

low income
The IRS provides tax assistance to low income taxpayers under the Tax Code. Taxpayers with low incomes have access to a variety of credits and deductions not available to others. The tax code includes credits based on particular situations.

In this article

You can file taxes for free with the help of a variety of free tax filing resources, especially if you belong to a low income bracket or are 60 years or older.

No matter what your immigration status is, anyone who lives or works in New York City and earns less than $80,000 a year or less than $56,000 a year qualifies for free tax preparation services. Volunteer preparers certified by the Internal Revenue Service are available to help with tax filing for low income families, both in-person and virtually. In addition, self-employment tax preparation centers are now offering free assistance to self-employed people across the city. Vilda Vera Mayuga, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, oversees the program, which is the nation’s first free tax prep program for self-employed individuals.

Income threshold

The IRS doesn’t require you to file a tax return even if you earned income last year that fell below the minimum amount. There is a minimum amount based on your age and filing status such as whether you are:

  • single
  • head of household
  • filing jointly with your spouse
  • a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

Additionally, the IRS adjusts the minimum amount of earned income for inflation every year. Under certain circumstances, individuals who earn less than the minimum may still be required to file a tax return; for example, if you earned $400 in self-employment, you will need to file.

However, you are not required to file if you have no income.

Your tax refund may be boosted by credits

You can take tax credits directly off your taxes instead of your income, like a deduction from the IRS. In some cases, you can get a refund for excess credits if they are greater than your tax liability.

Depending on your eligibility, you may receive a refund even if your tax is zero if you qualify for tax credits. Form 1040 and others must be filed to claim the credits.

The IRS provides tax assistance to low income taxpayers under the Tax Code. Taxpayers with low incomes have access to a variety of credits and deductions not available to others. The tax code includes credits based on particular situations, such as children or retirement contributions. Income-related incentives are typically phased out as taxpayers’ incomes rise.

It is impossible to avoid taxes (legally), but you can avoid paying tax professionals and use free software.

Free tax filing resources for low income families

A variety of resources on free tax filing for low income families are available to help you file your taxes, especially if you are an older or low income taxpayer.

In many cases, new mothers, low income families, and immigrants fail to file their tax returns. However, with tax season just around the corner, we’ve identified new ways to assist you, such as utilizing technology and, perhaps surprisingly, using the help of nurses. Filing of tax for low income families and other interactions with the government can be made less daunting by using community members as trusted messengers.

A recent study shows that immigrant families who receive help from these trusted messengers are more likely to claim tax benefits. The right messenger can provide clear and accessible information, reduce linguistic barriers, and correct misinformation about how claiming tax benefits may affect immigration status. Other research found that families with both US-born and immigrant members sometimes didn’t take advantage of Covid-19 stimulus benefits because they were worried about their status.

Any individual or family living or working in New York City who earned less than $56,000 last year or less than $80,000 last year qualifies for free tax preparation services.

Tax preparation by a volunteer certified by the Internal Revenue Service can be performed in person or virtually. At some tax prep centers in the city, self-employed people can now receive free tax preparation services. As DCWP commissioner Ms. Mayuga said, it is the country’s first free tax preparation program for self-employed people.


Two of the IRS’ most popular free tax preparation programs are Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). Volunteer Income Tax Assistance is available to people with limited English proficiency, disabilities, or incomes under $60,000. People over 60 with questions regarding retirement and pensions can seek assistance through the Elderly Tax Counseling program. 

IRS-certified volunteers supervise both programs, which work with partners nationwide, including the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection in New York City.

Credit for retirement savings contributions

When low income taxpayers contribute to retirement plans, they can receive credits. It is possible to claim a tax credit between 10 and 50 percent for retirement accounts, such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs). With effect from 2022, single filers with an adjusted gross income of less than $20,500 can claim the maximum credit of 50 percent.

At various income levels, the credit amount decreases based on your filing status. Single filers with an AGI above $34,000 will not be able to take advantage of the credit. For married couples filing jointly, the limit increases to $68,000.

File tax now, and get deductions later

There is a limit to the amount you can claim with various deductions and credits allowed by the IRS. The deduction you can claim for your home office cannot exceed the amount that would result in a loss to your business, for example. Rather than claiming business income, you carry any leftover deduction into the following year.

Deductions or credits carried over from the previous year:

  • If you don’t have an income, you can’t claim them.
  • Whenever you have income in the future, you should file your taxes to claim them.
  • Ensure that you are protected from future audits.
  • If the IRS audits an older tax return, there is a statute of limitations.

Generally, they can only go back three years if you have correctly reported your information. When you actually file your tax return for a given year, the clock begins ticking.

In the event that you fail to file, the IRS may audit you in the future. As a result, the IRS recommends that you keep all relevant financial records even if you don’t file.

Where to file taxes for free for low income families

With Line, you can file your personal tax returns for free, both federal and state taxes. This is true even if you have worked in more than one state or have more than one W-2. The process is hassle-free and easy. For all types of tax forms (W-2s, 1099s, and more) and all filing statuses (single or joint) across all 50 states, we provide tax filing services. The Line mobile app offers the best experience of free tax filing for low income families. Start filing your taxes right away with a quick download from the App store/Play Store. 

This page is purely informational. Line does not provide financial, legal or accounting advice. This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide financial, legal or accounting advice and should not be relied on for the same. Please consult your own financial, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transactions.

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