How to get your taxes done for free in Philly
Your taxes don't have to be stressful. Here's where to get free help.
There are free tax preparation services available in the Philly region if you have a low to moderate income. Whether tax day is tomorrow or in one year, it’s never a bad time to find free tax help.
Whether you need general tax assistance, help in a language other than English, or are a student or older adult, here’s our guide to free national and local services, including filing for the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and other deductions if you’re eligible.. If you want information on getting your Philly city wage tax refund, check out our guide here.
IRS Saturday hours
The Internal Revenue Service is opening some offices on a few upcoming Saturdays, offering in-person hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Taxpayer Assistance Centers in select cities, including Philadelphia.
The Center City IRS office at 600 Arch St. is accepting walk-in clients on these Saturdays: March 12, April 9 and May 14. No appointments are needed.
“The IRS continues to do everything we can to help people during this unprecedented period,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement. “Opening these assistance centers for special Saturday hours is designed to provide yet another way for people to get the help they need.”
For other IRS offices open on Saturdays, visit the agency’s website at IRS.gov/saturdayhours.
IRS free tax help tool
This is a great place to start, no matter what kind of help you need. Check to see whether there is a free local tax prep provider near you by using the IRS Free Tax Help Tool.
Eligibility: If you make less than $58,000 a year, the tool helps you find organizations that offer free tax prep services. All organizations listed should also offer free prep for taxpayers with disability or limited English, but check beforehand.
The program is funded through federal programs that the IRS oversees, such as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. It’s safe and easy, and gives you results based on zip code.
Campaign for Working Families (CWF)
Eligibility: CWF offers free tax preparation services for people in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern Jersey who make under $65,000 a year.
They offer online and in-person services by appointment.
IRS Free File is a free federal service that will help you file your federal, and in some cases, state income taxes online.
Eligibility: You must make less than $73,000 a year.
IRS Free File partners with eligible tax service providers to guide you through filing. While most providers do not charge you for also filing your state taxes with the service, some do; providers have to tell you about any fees on their IRS Free File landing page. To get started, visit their website.
Temple’s VITA program is a free tax preparation service. Due to COVID, Temple is operating virtually this year, said Steven Balsam, professor at Temple’s Fox School of Business.
“Operating virtually does not take the client out of the process, as we use Zoom or call the client as we walk though their returns,” Balsam said.
Eligibility: You must make less than $57,414 a year, not own your own business, not own rental property, and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
The online program offers three options to send Temple your tax documents. For more information, contact Temple’s VITA program at 215-326-9519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online: To file with Temple’s VITA program online getyourrefund.org.
In-person: To drop off your tax documents in-person, visit 1509 Cecil B. Moore Ave, Room 214 (second floor). Open Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday from noon to 5 p.m. or Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
By mail: Send documents to Temple University VITA program, Fox School of Business, Department of Accounting, Alter Hall Room 403A, 1801 Liacouras Walk, Philadelphia, Pa. 19122. Temple will contact you when it receives your information. If you haven’t heard from the program within a week, call 215-326-9519 or email email@example.com.
FREE TAX PREP IN OTHER LANGUAGES
Before you start, the IRS Free File Tool offers assistance in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian and Vietnamese. The IRS Free File Tool only does online filing; if you need more specialized help, check the categories below.
Congreso de Latinos Unidos offers free tax preparation services in both English and Spanish. Eligibility: You must make less than $56,000 a year. From February through mid-April, Congreso offers walk-in tax preparation on a first-come, first-served basis. Call 215-763-8870 to check availability beforehand. For more information visit their website.
Ceiba offers free tax preparation services in both English and Spanish. All tax preparation services are by appointment only. Call 215-634-7245 to make an appointment. For more information visit ceibaphiladelphia.org/free-tax-preparation.
HACE CDC offers free tax preparation services in both English and Spanish. All tax preparation services are by appointment only. Call 215-426-8025, x3003.
PCDC’s VITA program is a free tax preparation service. PCDC operates its VITA tax site from February through mid-April every year. Eligibility: You must make less than $57,414 a year, and you cannot own your own business or own rental property, and you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. To get started, visit their website.
Online: To file online with PCDC for free fill out their form.
In-person: File or drop off documents at PCDC’s Crane Center at 1001 Vine Street. Call ahead: 215-922-6156.
The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation’s VITA program is a free tax preparation service. Eligibility: You must make under $57,000 a year, do not own your own business or rental property, and you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You must also have made less than six stock transactions in the previous year. Services are offered in English, Chinese and Cantonese. All tax preparation services are by appointment only. Call (215) 627-1915 to make an appointment. For more information, visit their website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CFW are using Language Line to accommodate other language speakers when assisting them with their taxes. Check with CFW to see if you can receive help in your preferred language:
Additionally, immigrants from Afghanistan are helping to manage the tax prep site at Oxford Circle Christian Community Development Association (OCCCDA) 6500 Castor Ave., Suite A, and OCCDA 900 E Howell St., Entrance B.
FREE TAX PREP FOR OLDER ADULTS
IRS Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program
The IRS provides free tax preparation services for adults 60 and older through the TCE program. The federal tax assistance service operates from Jan. 1 through April 15, every year, at eligible tax service providers. A majority of TCE locations are operated through the American Association of Retired Persons’ (AARP) Tax Aide program, which can be found below. Eligibility: You must be 60 years old or older, and make less than $58,000.
TCE program locations in Philly:
Campaign for Working Families (North Philly)
Mt. Vernon Manor Community Development Corporation (West Philly) Open Tuesdays and Thursdays, by appointment only. To make an appointment, call 215-475-9492.
Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (Center City).
Temple University (North Philly).
The AARP provides free tax preparation services to anyone, but focuses on adults age 50 and over with low to moderate income. These providers offer in-person, online, or low-contact services. You can find a free tax help site near you on AARP’s website. If you want to do your own taxes online, AARP can provide a counselor to help guide you through the process. To get started, fill out their online form.
FREE TAX PREP FOR STUDENTS
Students who have basic tax filings can usually do their taxes using free online tax prep services, such as IRS Free File. However, many universities participate in the federal VITA program and help students with free tax assistance. Check with your school first to see whether it will offer free tax help. If not, check out these resources:
Campaign for Working Families (North Philly)
Mt. Vernon Manor Community Development Corporation. (West Philly) Open Tuesdays and Thursdays, by appointment only. To make an appointment, call 215-475-9492.
Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (Center City)
Temple University’s (VITA) program (North Philly)
When will my tax return be processed?
Expect your return to be delayed. Nearly 24 million returns and other correspondence still are waiting at the IRS, as the agency is processing 23.7 million taxpayer communications from 2020, far more than previous estimates.