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File your taxes, free!

The IRS offers free tax filing options for qualified taxpayers here.

At, you can connect with live or virtual tax professionals.


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One of the founding tenets of The Philadelphia Citizen is to get people the resources they need to become better, more engaged citizens of their city.

We hope to do that in our Good Citizenship Toolkit, which includes a host of ways to get involved in Philadelphia — whether you want to contact your City Councilmember about making tax filing easier (and less painful), get those experiencing homelessness the goods they need, or simply go out to dinner somewhere where you know your money is going toward a greater good.

Find an issue that’s important to you in the list below, and get started on your journey of A-plus citizenship.

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Philly, Get Free Help Filing your Taxes

National and local programs offer completely free tax-filing services to people living in and around Philly.

Philly, Get Free Help Filing your Taxes

National and local programs offer completely free tax-filing services to people living in and around Philly.

“I love filing my taxes,” said no one, ever. Dealing with W-2s, 1099s, and all the rest can be both a chore — and a serious expense. It doesn’t have to be, especially not if you live in or around Philly.

Since the 1970s, the IRS has funded the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program to help low- to moderate-income households and people ages 60 and older with their taxes. Both of these national programs have local operations — and their joint website lists dozens of local sites where qualifying U.S. residents can get taxes done, for no charge.

The sites listed include those operated by the Campaign for Working Families, a local nonprofit that partners with the City of Philadelphia (and sites in the suburbs and South Jersey) to provide free tax prep to qualifying individuals and families. In 2023, the Campaign for Working Families helped 22,000 locals get their taxes done. This year, they hope to help 30,000.

According to the IRS, their programs — VITA and TCE — have a higher rate of accuracy than private, paid tax professionals like H&R Block and TurboTax. The IRS has also reported higher rates of tax savings for their no-cost programs over that of their costlier peers. (Free, government-sponsored services can also help clients access money they’re owed, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which can pay up to $7,430 for qualifying families.)

Follow these four steps to get your IRS, Commonwealth of PA, and City of Philadelphia forms filed by April 15 — with little hassle and no cost.

Get your taxes prepared — for free

1. Find out what program(s) you qualify for

—Are you a U.S. citizen or permanent resident?

You must be, in order to qualify for the free tax prep services below. Continue.

—Are you younger than 60, do not have a disability, speak English fluently, and earn more than $79,000 annually?

You do not officially qualify for the programs below, but you can still get freeBroke in Philly logo help. (While designed for lower-income Philadelphians, Campaign for Working Families’ free tax prep program accepts all comers.) Many public libraries and community centers offer days when volunteers come in to assist neighbors with tax prep. Reach out to the ones nearest you to see what they offer.

—Are you 60 or older?

You qualify for TCE. (Although you may qualify for other programs too, TCE could be your best option, as their volunteers specialize in answering questions about pensions and retirement-related issues that are unique to seniors.) Go to #2.

—Do you operate your own business or own a rental property?

You do not qualify for VITA’s free tax prep, but you may qualify for Campaign for Working Families’. (And, if you’re 60 or older, you still qualify for TCE.) Continue with questions below.

—Do you have a disability?

You qualify for free tax prep from VITA. Go to #2.

—Do you speak limited English?

You qualify for free tax prep from VITA. Go to #2.

—Is your annual income around $60,000 or less?

You qualify for free tax prep from VITA or the Campaign for Working Families (although this Philly org turns no one away). Go to #2.

—Is your individual income $79,000 or less annually?

You qualify for free online filing, without assistance. Go to #2.

2. Choose how and where you’ll file.

VITA, TCE and Campaign for Working Families programs offer four basic options to access tax help:

In person, on location. The IRS has a list of all VITA, TCE and Campaign for Working Families sites — and includes address, hours, languages spoken and other details. Some sites require appointments. Others, including all Campaign for Working Families offices, do not. Hours vary. If you’re filing jointly, bring your spouse. You can also call the IRS at (800) 906-9887.

AARP also offers free tax preparation for those who qualify for TCE, starting in February. Find AARP Tax-Aide sites here or call (888) 227-7669.

Virtually. You can arrange a one-on-one phone or online appointment with a volunteer and take it step by step. This United Way of PA online form connects you with TCE or VITA help. If you’re using the Campaign for Working Families, get started here. (For TCE through AARP, go here.)

Drop off in person. At many of the in-person sites — confirm before you go — you can drop off your paperwork; someone will work on your taxes after you’ve left, and you’ll receive a date to come back to sign and send in your paperwork. All three programs — VITA, TCE and Campaign for Working Families — designate intake sites for dropping off.

Submit your taxes online, and someone will review them and get back to you when your paperwork is ready to sign. VITA and TCE filers can use Dept. of Treasury-backed Get Your Refund to file virtually through an IRS-certified tax preparer. Folks with an annual income of $79,000 can file virtually with help from an IRS Free File trusted partner.

If your income exceeds $79,000, the IRS offers free fillable online tax forms that help you along the way, but ultimately, you’re responsible for their accuracy.

3. Get your stuff together.

The essentials:

  • Government-issued photo i.d. (driver’s license, passport, etc.)
  • Social Security card(s) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number(s) (ITIN) letter for yourself, your spouse and your dependents.
  • Wage and earning statements (forms W-2, W-2G, 1099-R,1099-Misc) from all employers

If you have them:

  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (form 1099)
  • Health Insurance Exemption Certificate
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns
  • Forms 1095-A, B and C, Health Coverage Statements.
  • Copies of income transcripts from IRS and state


If you’re expecting a refund and want direct deposit, bring proof of your bank account routing and account numbers (like a blank check)

If you have a child or children in daycare, bring tuition receipts, along with the daycare provider’s tax i.d. number (They are used to sharing this)

4. Follow the plan you’ve already made.

Follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to reviewing, signing and sending off your tax forms — with the happy knowledge that you’ve saved at least a couple hundred bucks in the process.


Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

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