Frequently Asked Questions


Yes! All 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 file on my 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 does not provide legal or tax advice. Due to the high demand for free tax preparation assistance, our priority is to help individuals using one of our filing methods.

Our hotline staff can assist you in navigating our filing options and resources, but cannot guide you on how to fill out your return, assist you in corresponding with the IRS or FTB, schedule an appointment for you, or assist you with filing a tax return through another platform.

For help with your tax return, please use our file with in-person help and file with virtual help options. Certified tax preparers through the VITA program can file your return for you and answer specific tax-related questions during your free tax prep appointment. Please note that these services are intended for those who plan to file using the VITA program. 


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 October 15). If you are unable to find in-person help near you, consider our virtual with help option (available until early October) 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 typically prepare up to three previous year returns, with some sites able to prepare up to five (please check with the site for specifics as this varies by site). Through our virtual 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 generally due on April 15 each year. However, if you are due a refund from the IRS and do not owe taxes, you will not face a penalty for filing after the deadline. The filing deadline for those who owe federal taxes for tax year 2023 is April 15, 2024; if you live in San Diego County, read more about the extended deadline this year here.

For tax year 2023, Californians have until April 15, 2024, to file and pay any owed CA state income taxes. If you need additional time to file your CA state income taxes, California grants an automatic extension, allowing 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 lost a copy of a previous year tax return, the first step should be to revisit the filing method you used to file your taxes, to request a copy.

If you used one of our filing methods:

  • In-Person Option:
    VITA sites are not required to archive and issue additional copies of filers’ tax returns. If you have a VITA appointment scheduled, you can ask at that time if they can provide an additional copy of your return.
  • File on my own option:
    Log back into the tax software to access the return you filed through the self-filing software.
  • Virtual with help option:
    Contact to request a copy of a return filed through Get Your Refund.

Other alternatives:

You can request a tax transcript from both the IRS and the Franchise Tax Board (CA) for any tax year free of charge. Alternatively, you can request an original copy of your tax return from the IRS or FTB for a fee.

For more information on how to do this, click here


To check the status of your federal refund, visit the IRS website.

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. 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

Make Payments to the IRS

There are multiple options when it comes to paying taxes if you owe:

  • Online: You may submit a payment when filing an extension or taxes online with your complete bank account and bank routing number. Another fast and secure way to make any payment is on the IRS website at
  • Phone: You may also call the IRS general line to make a payment through the automated phone system at 1-800-829-1040.
  • Mail: You may make payments by mail using a personal check or money order. It is important to include relevant notes with your check or money order payment—such as which tax year you would like the payment applied to (for example, “Tax Year 2023”) and your social security number or ITIN on the check memo. Checks written to the IRS are written to the Department of Treasury.


Here is a sample check with relevant information you should include:


The address where you may send IRS payments:

Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 802501
Cincinnati, OH 45280-2501

Make Payments to the Franchise Tax Board

When it comes to paying the Franchise Tax Board, the process is similar. You can pay over the phone, online, or by mailing a check.

  • Online: To pay online, visit:
  • Phone: To make any payment or set up a payment plan with the Franchise Tax Board via phone, you can call 1 (800) 852-5711.
  • Mail: To mail your payment to the Franchise Tax Board, send a check written out to the Franchise Tax Board to the following mailing address.

    Franchise Tax Board
    P.O. Box 942867
    Sacramento, CA 94267-0001

In-Person Filing

Most in-person VITA sites open in late January and remain open until April 15, with some sites staying open until October 15. Appointment availability varies by location and volunteer capacity.

Explore available appointments in your area here. To prepare, use our tax prep checklist to gather the necessary documents you will need to file.

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.

It’s important to have all your tax documents ready during your appointment, especially any income forms. Without these documents, our tax preparers won’t be able to complete your return, which would require an additional appointment.

You can schedule an appointment for a later date before you have all of your tax documents, but please make sure you have them before your appointment. If you do not have your documents ready at least two days before your appointment, please cancel or reschedule your appointment. If you cannot locate your link to reschedule/cancel your appointment, text FINDMYBOOKING to 211-211.

Please note that during busy periods or as the tax deadline approaches, it may be difficult to schedule a second appointment. To ensure you have everything you need and avoid any delays in filing your taxes, please review our tax prep checklist before your appointment.

You can retrieve your appointment booking information by texting FINDMYBOOOKING to 211-211. FINDMYBOOKING should be sent as one word, with no spaces.

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. FINDMYBOOKING should be sent as one word, with no spaces.

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, our self-filing option (accessible by selecting the File on my own option on our homepage) is completely free for current-year tax returns and does not have a maximum income limit. We connect users to one of two self-preparation software options (CashApp or TaxSlayer) based on their income.

MyFreeTaxes includes the same federal and state forms offered in most major tax filing platforms. For users who are directed to CashApp, view the list of supported forms here. For users who are directed to TaxSlayer, view the list of supported forms here.

CashApp (through
  • Available year round
  • Can file with an SSN or ITIN (does not include ITIN renewals or new ITIN applications)
  • Current year tax return
  • Current year amendment
  • Available to tax filers regardless of income (if you make below $79,000 but prefer to be redirected to use CashApp instead of TaxSlayer, indicate that you make above $79,000 on our sign-up form; this will not impact your tax liability)
  • Available in English
    Supports the following filing statuses:

    • Single
    • Married filing jointly
    • Head of household
    • Qualifying widow/widower
TaxSlayer (through
  • Available from January 29 to October 15
  • Can file with an SSN or ITIN (does not include ITIN renewals or new ITIN applications)
  • Current year tax return
  • Current year amendment
  • Available to tax filers with an adjusted gross income at or below $79,000
  • Available in English and Spanish
  • Supports all filing statuses:
    • Single
    • Married filing separately
    • Married filing jointly
    • Head of household
    • Qualifying widow/widower

Please note: If you make above $79,000 but need to file married separately, we recommend using CalFile to file your state taxes. It is completely free!

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.

To file this year, you will need to get started with GetYourRefund by October 1st; if your return is in progress, sign in and submit your documents by October 8th.

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, contact

Please note that this email is specifically for 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.