Frequently Asked Questions


Yes! All of our filing options are completely free and include both state and federal returns.

ITIN application/renewal assistance is also available through our file with in-person help and file with virtual help options and free of cost.

There is no income eligibility requirement to self-file for free using our filing on your own option. To be eligible to file your taxes for free using our file with virtual help or file with in-person help options for tax year 2023, you will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Income at or less than $64,000 ($66,000 or less if filing with virtual help)
  • 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
  • If self-employed, no business related expenses over $35,000 or businesses with employees, inventory, business property, net loss, or depreciating assets.
  • No sales of cryptocurrency

Due to the high demand for free tax prep assistance, our priority is to assist individuals using one of our filing methods. If you require help with your tax return, we recommend utilizing our in-person or virtual with help options, where certified tax preparers can assist you with these specific needs.

Our hotline staff can assist you in navigating our filing options, but are unable to provide guidance on how to fill out a return, offer personalized assistance with your tax return, or assist you with filing a tax return through another platform.

Though many Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites provide in-person help on a seasonal basis (from late January until April 15), there are some sites that offer services year-round (until mid-October). If you are unable to find in-person help near you, consider our virtual with help option (start by April 1, 2024 to file by April 15, 2024) or our free online self filing option (available through October 15).



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.

If you need help filing previous year tax returns, check out our In-Person Help and File with virtual help filing options for help. In-person VITA sites can usually prepare up to three previous year returns (this may vary by site). Though our virtual with help option, tax years 2020-2023 are covered.

Please note, that if you do not qualify for free help through VITA, and are looking to self-file previous year returns online, unfortunately there are no free online options available.

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General Tax Questions

Federal tax returns are due around April 15 each year. However, if you get a refund from the IRS and do not owe taxes, you will not face a penalty for failing to file by the return deadline. The filing deadline for those that owe federal taxes for tax year 2023 is April 15, 2024.

For tax year 2023, Californians will have until April 15, 2024, to file and pay any owed CA state income taxes. If you need an extension to file your CA state income taxes, California grants an automatic extension. The extensions allow taxpayers to file by October 15, 2024, however, tax payments are still due by April 15, 2024, even with an extension to file.

The requirement to file a federal income tax return depends on your gross income, your filing status, your age, and whether you are a dependent. You may have to file a tax return even if your gross income is less than the amount required to file. To determine if you need to file a tax return, use the “Do I need to File a Tax Return?” IRS screener tool.

For tax year 2023, you must file a federal tax return if your total 2023 income exceeds the amount listed below:

Filing StatusUnder 65 years old65 years old or over
Head of Household$20,800$22,650
Married Filing Jointly$27,700 (both spouses)$30,700 (both spouses)
Married Filing Separate$5$5
Qualifying Surviving Spouse$27,700$29,200

You must file a tax return if any of the following apply (regardless of how much you earned in 2023):

  • Cash income, self-employment income, business income, or income from a 1099 NEC, MISC, or K of at least $400.
  • Income from a retirement account (form 1099 R) if you were under the age of 59 and ½ at the end of 2022.
  • If you purchased healthcare on the Marketplace (Covered CA or at any time during 2023.

Even if you aren’t required to file, it’s important to check to see if you are eligible for hundreds or thousands of dollars in tax credits, like the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit (CTC) or Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC).

If you pay more than half of the living expenses for a child or relative, you may be able to claim them as a dependent on your tax return if they meet certain requirements.

To determine if you can claim someone else as a dependent on your tax return, use the Whom may I claim as a dependent? IRS screener tool.

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.

Tax credits reduce the amount of tax you owe, and depending on the tax credit, may give you cash back even if you don’t owe any taxes or earned any income.  There are tax credits at both the federal and state level, and each tax credit has different eligibility criteria. Learn more about tax credits you may be eligible for here.

You can calculate your potential tax credits for tax year 2023 using the MyFreeTaxes Tax Credit Calculator.

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.


If you need a copy of your tax return, you can request an Account Transcript from both the IRS and the State of California for any tax year. An Account Transcript will show income sources and the amounts earned and is free.

Visit the IRS and Franchise Tax Board websites to order or immediately download a previous year’s Account Transcript.

To check the status of your federal refund, visit the IRS website at Please note that for e-filed returns, it can take up to 21 days to receive your refund. For amended returns and returns sent by mail, it may take 4 weeks or more. However, if your return requires corrections or additional review, it could take longer. For more answers to frequently asked questions regarding federal refunds, click hereIf there was an error in regard to where the federal refund payment should be made to, click here.

If you need additional support with a federal refund, contact the IRS:

800-829-1954 (automated system)
800-829-1040 (to speak with a representative)
7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time

For California refunds, visit the Franchise Tax Board website at Refunds for e-filed California returns can take up to 3 weeks, while refunds for paper-filed returns may take up to 3 months. For more answers to frequently asked questions regarding CA state refunds, click here.

If you need additional support with a CA state refund, contact the FTB:

916-845-6500 (outside the U.S.)
Weekdays, 8 AM to 5 PM



In-Person Filing

The tax filing season opens mid-January and ends on Tax Day (April 15, 2024). Appointments differ depending on the site and volunteer availability. Go here to explore available appointments in your area.

To get ready now, use our tax prep checklist to gather your necessary files to be prepared to file with ease.

The VITA program assists with a majority of tax returns, including:

  • Earnings from a job
  • Self-employment, contract work, and cash income
  • ITINs
  • Tax credits (CalETC, EITC, CTC, YCTC, etc.)
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Social Security Benefits 
  • Retirement income
  • Gambling winnings 
  • Home mortgage deduction
  • Charitable Donations deduction
  • Medical expenses deduction
  • College credits and student loan interest deductions
  • Previous year returns (In-person VITA sites can usually prepare up to three previous year returns. Though our virtual with help option, tax years 2020-2023 are covered)

For a complete list, please click here.

To schedule an in-person appointment, follow these instructions:

  1. Select the In-Person Help option on our main page. Click on the button “Quickly confirm your eligibility to qualify for free tax filing”. If you are eligible, fill out your contact information and click “Schedule an appointment”.
  2. You will be directed to our “Find a Free Tax Prep Assistance Site” page, which will show a map of VITA sites throughout CA. In the box under “Search Location” enter your zip code then click “Search”. If you do not see any sites showing up, zoom out by clicking the (-) button on the right-hand corner of the map.
  3. Once you find a site, click the button “Book Now”. If the site you are looking at, does not have a “Book Now” button, please look in the description and/or the tag below the address of the site. If the description or tag says “Walk In”, this means no appointment is required; you can just walk in to the site during their hours of operation. If the description says to call 211 or a specific number, please call the number specified to book an appointment.

You can retrieve your appointment booking information by texting FINDMYBOOOKING to 211-211.

A link to cancel/reschedule is automatically sent to you after booking your appointment, if you opted to receive automated text message and/or email reminders when booking an appointment.  By using that link, you can cancel or reschedule your appointment.

Text message notifications are sent from our 211-211 number, and email notifications are sent through

If you cannot locate the text message or email containing the link, you can retrieve your appointment booking information by texting FINDMYBOOKING to 211-211.

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. VITA volunteer tax return preparers go through required certification through the IRS to prepare taxes and perform quality reviews of returns.

Self-Filing through

Through, there are no income caps for free self-filing. Our self-preparation software (accessible by selecting the File on my own option on our homepage) is completely free. We connect users to one of two self-preparation software options based on their income, available in both English and Spanish:

  • Taxpayers with incomes at or under $79,000 will be redirected to file for free through TaxSlayer.
  • Taxpayers with incomes above $79,000 are redirected to file for free through CashApp.

Common tax situations covered in MyFreeTaxes include:

  • W-2 income
  • Self-employment income (Schedule C and 1099)
  • Mortgage interest deduction
  • Health savings accounts (HSAs)
  • Limited interest and dividend income reported on a 1099-INT or 1099-DIV
  • Unemployment income
  • Student education expenses and credits
  • Student loan interest
  • Claiming the standard deduction
  • Itemized returns
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC)
  • Child tax credits
  • Child and dependent care expenses
  • Non-resident returns
  • Amended tax returns

You must start at and select our File on my own option. You will be redirected to a referral link that you will then use to access the TaxSlayer software, which will ensure you are not charged and associate your account with our referral link. Make sure to bookmark the link to TaxSlayer once you follow these steps.

If you navigate to TaxSlayer directly, or use a link from another website, we cannot guarantee you won’t accidentally access one of TaxSlayer’s paid products. If you see a fee, you’ll need to delete your return and start over using the referral link we provide you. Please follow these steps:

  • Log into your TaxSlayer account
  • Using the gray sidebar, go to Settings, then Transaction History
  • In the Deactivate Tax Return section, select a reason from the drop-down menu and click the “Clear Your Return and Restart” button
    • If the Deactivate Tax Return section is empty, please log out of your account, close your internet browser, re-open your browser, and repeat the steps above.
  • Go to, choose our self-file option, and complete our questions. We will connect you to our partner software using our special referral link. Please immediately log into your tax software account using to ensure your account is tagged with our referral link.


To deactivate your account, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your account with the tax software provider.
  2. Click on Settings, then Transaction History.
  3. In the “Deactivate Tax Return” section, select a reason from the drop-down menu and select “Clear Your Return and Restart”.

To start amending your return through TaxSlayer, follow the following steps:

  1. Select E-file in the main navigation menu.
  2. Select the Amended Return menu item that appears below it in the navigation menu.
  3. Amend your return
  4. Once you have completed your amended return, select Continue at the bottom of the Amended Return menu to choose how you wish to file it.

The email notifying you of the rejection should provide the reason. Make corrections by logging back into your tax software account and refile. If that doesn’t work, you may have to file a paper return or contact the IRS. The most common reasons for rejection are:

  1. Employer EIN does not match IRS information
  2. Social Security number does not match IRS name
  3. Someone already filed using a dependent’s Social Security number
  4. IRS identity theft PIN is wrong or was omitted

File with Virtual Help Option on

For the 2024 tax season, this option opened on January 31, 2024, at 10am PT. It will close mid-October.

PLEASE NOTE: If you would like to use our virtual with help option to file by April 15, 2024, you will need to create an account and get started by April 1, 2024.

When you file virtually with help through, you will be redirected to Get Your Refund — a trusted software that is provided by Code for America in partnership with our local tax partners.

Taxpayers answer simple questions about their household situation, securely upload their tax documents, and can get connected to IRS certified VITA volunteers for assistance. Once the taxpayer uploads all their documents, the VITA team will remotely prepare the tax return, call the taxpayer to review their return, and file the return with taxpayer consent.


Get Your Refund can be accessed on any device (desktop, mobile, tablet) and is accessible with a screen reader. 

Through Get Your Refund, usually a return will be prepared within 10-14 business days. The length of the process may be longer if you do not upload the documents needed, and/or do not answer phone calls and emails from your tax preparer promptly to ensure they have all the information needed to prepare an accurate return. 

Get Your Refund allows people to safely and privately upload their tax documents, allowing them to file safely from home.

For any filers using our virtual with help option through, you can contact us at 877-907-0937 for additional support. Hours of operation are Monday to Friday 6 am-5 pm PST, Saturdays 6 am-12 pm PST.

Please note that this hotline is specific to filers using our virtual with help option. For support with all of our other filing options, contact us here

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

An Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) 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 ITIN 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. Schedule an appointment at a select IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) where in-person document review is provided by calling (844) 545-5640.

When you use a Certified Acceptance Agent (CAA), you can avoid mailing in your original identifying documents along with your tax return and your ITIN application. However, you can still apply for an ITIN without the assistance of a CAA by either mailing your original documents, or scheduling an appointment at a select IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) where in-person document review is provided to avoid mailing your identifying documents.

Safety and Privacy

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.