If you're elderly, earn $52,000 or less a year, or just want to save money, there are a variety of free or low-cost options available this year for filing your federal income taxes.
Last week, Philadelphia's Campaign for Working Families, partnered with the IRS, opened 17 free-tax-preparation sites around the city. Services are available to families with gross incomes of less than $40,000 a year or individuals who earn less than $15,000. Taxpayers can call 215-686-2599, enter their zip code, and find locations, hours, and phone numbers.
Outside Philadelphia, taxpayers can get information about free-tax-preparation sites by calling the IRS at 1-800- 829-1040, pressing 1, and then pressing 5.
Taxpayers who earn $39,000 or less can also get tax help directly from the IRS's Taxpayer Assistance Center at 600 Arch St. One caveat: You will have to go in twice - the first time to make an appointment, the second time to keep it.
Taxpayers 60 or older can get free tax-preparation services from another of IRS's partners, AARP. For locations, call 1-888- 227-7669 or visit www.aarp.org/taxaide.
For free tax-prep services online, go to www.irs.gov, and click on "2007 Free File." This year's version, again offered by tax-prep companies partnered with the IRS, is open to taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $52,000 or less, or 70 percent of taxpayers.
Earn too much? The IRS says it still might be worth going through the motions, because participating companies are offering inexpensive online filing - some for as little as $10 - to those who enter their information and find they are ineligible.
There is good news about Free File this year for those annoyed in the past by a barrage of offers to buy additional services - everything from retirement planning to leather coats, according to Burt DuMars, the IRS's director of electronic tax administration.
This year, Free File Alliance members are barred from offering any extra services, including the controversial refund-anticipation loans. The only exception: Offering to e-file your state tax returns.
"Once you pick Free File," DuMars said, "you're in the free zone."