April 15 is about two months away, but why wait until the last minute to file your tax return? There are more locations than ever where taxpayers, especially those 60 and older, can get free assistance now with their federal and state returns. For do-it-yourselfers, there is a website where you can fill out and file the forms for free. Here are the some of the places to get help:
Tax-Aide This popular service sponsored by AARP is available at nearly 100 libraries, community centers and senior centers in Nassau and Suffolk. While the service is open to everyone, AARP says its certified tax counselors give "special attention" to adults 60 and older. Counselors will check to see if you are eligible for the earned income tax credit, a deduction many seniors fail to take. To find a Tax-Aide site, call 888-227-7669 or go online to aarp.org/findtaxhelp.
VITA The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is an IRS-sponsored service available at thousands of sites around the country, including on Long Island. The leading VITA program locally is run by Bethpage Federal Credit Union, which offers the service at 12 of its branches. VITA help is generally limited to individuals and families earning $55,000 or less. Services include help filling out basic tax forms and free electronic filing. To find a VITA site, go to irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep. You also can go to Bethpage Federal Credit Union's website at bit.ly/bfcu-vita or call 516-349-4288.
TCE This venerable IRS-sponsored service is still officially known as Tax Counseling for the Elderly, an especially irritating name to boomers because "elderly" is defined as 60 and older. Find a TCE location at irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep (the same website the IRS has for VITA sites).
Online Those who want to do their own taxes can get the benefits of a pricey tax software program for free at myfreetaxes.com; if you used a software program such as TurboTax or H&R Block last year, the site will be able to read the file, which will save you the time of inputting a lot of personal information. MyFreeTaxes is sponsored by Walmart, Goodwill, the National Disability Institute and the United Way. It is limited to individuals and families earning $58,000 or less.