Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Yes! There are no eligibility requirements for free filing if you are filing on your own. To be eligible to file your taxes for free with help virtually or in-person help, you will need to need to meet following criteria:

  • Income less than $57,000
  • No rental income (from a property you own)
  • Did not file for bankruptcy last year
  • Had no cancellation of debt outside of non-business credit cards
  • No clergy income
  • If married, are filing jointly
  • Had no self-employment income with more than $10,000.00 in expenses or businesses with inventory

You’ll need to gather all of your tax and income documents like W2s, 1099s and 1098s. To help maximize your deductions, you’ll also want to gather documents like childcare and education expenses, charitable donations, and vehicle or renter information. View and download the full list of documents you need here.

Though many Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites provide in-person help on a seasonal basis, there are some sites that offer services year-round either in-person or virtually. If you are unable to find in-person help near you, free online self filing through TaxSlayer is available through October 15 of each year.

Even if you don’t have a filing requirement, you could qualify for hundreds or thousands of dollars in tax credits, like the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) or Young Child Tax Credit.

In tax year 2021, the filing income limit is less than $12,550. We encourage everyone to file their taxes to access their eligible cash-back tax credits.

Tax Credits are a cash-back refund designed to support families in need of a financial boost. They are based on a variety of factors such as annual income and having children. Tax credits help reduce the amount of taxes you owe, but you must file your taxes each year to claim what’s yours. Learn more about tax credits you may be eligible for here.

You can calculate your potential tax credits using the MyFreeTaxes Tax Credit Calculator, and learn more about eligibility requirements here.

Our tax calculator looks at popular programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, but there are other credits or deductions you may qualify for. To maximize your refund we recommend bringing the following documents with you to your appointment.

We also invite you to explore United Ways of California’s Benefit Calculator to see if you’re eligible for other public benefits that could help support you and your family, like CalFresh, Medicaid, and reduced-cost internet.

All filing options — on your own using free filing software, with virtual help through GetYourRefund, or with in-person help — offer free filing support in both Spanish and English.

Many in-person appointments at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site also offer appointments in a variety of languages including: Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Farsi, Russian, Hmong, and more. Please note that availability differs by site and will be noted when making an appointment.

This website is best viewed using the most up-to-date browser version of Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. If you are using an out-of-date browser or a version of Internet Explorer, you may not experience the full effect when viewing the site.

Additionally, if you have a pop-up blocker on, you may need to disable or configure the settings. We recommend that you disable the blocker temporarily and add to your “white list.” You can view these resources for more information:

Safety and Privacy

When you file virtually through, you will be redirected to our partner’s site — a trusted software that was developed by Code for America. This software allows people to safely and privately upload their tax documents, allowing them to file safely from home.

Information shared during your tax filing appointment and online is 100% confidential. The IRS is forbidden from sharing your tax information with any outside entity. This includes other government organizations like Immigration.

In-Person Filing

The tax filing season opens mid-January and ends on Tax Day (April 18). Appointments differ depending on the site and volunteer availability. Go here to explore available appointments in your area.

Every single VITA volunteer providing in-person tax filing help for the community goes through mandatory training from the IRS. This training takes approximately 20-30 hours.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

An Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs) is a tax processing number available to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security number (SSN). You can learn more about ITIN requirements and eligibility here.

Generally, yes. The IRS has strong privacy protections in place to ensure that immigrants who report their income and file their taxes are not at risk of having their information shared. Under Internal Revenue Code section 6103, the IRS is generally prohibited from disclosing taxpayer information, including to other federal agencies. However, certain exceptions apply. For example, the IRS is required to disclose taxpayer information to certain U.S. Treasury Department employees when they request it for tax administration purposes or to other federal agencies if it’s needed for a non-tax criminal investigation and a federal court has ordered that it be provided.

This information was provided by the National Immigration Law Center. Learn more about their information for ITIN holders here.

If your ITIN expires, you will need to include an ITIN application along with your taxes. View our ITIN application and renewal checklist here.

To renew or apply for an ITIN you will need to download and complete a W-7 Application for IRS ITIN Form and gather the necessary documentation as listed in our ITIN checklist. You can submit your application in any one of three ways:

  1. Complete your W-7 ITIN application form on your own, gather your documents, and send it to the IRS following these instructions, OR
  2. Make an appointment at a local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site to get free help filling out and submitting your W-7 form, OR
  3. Apply for an ITIN in-person using the services of an IRS-authorized Certifying Acceptance Agent (CAAs). This will prevent you from having to mail your proof of identity and foreign status documents. Important Note: Not all CAAs will offer ITIN application support for free.

No. You can also file on your own with this checklist.