Don’t let the stress of tax season get you down. I know, I know. You have to get your receipts gathered and organized by date and find all those invoices from old clients. Not to mention all the other documents and information that need to be collated and deciphered. Because of this, your tax situation may require you to speak to an expert – specifically a Certified Tax Accountant (CTA) or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – in order to make sure you stay legally compliant. Below are five free tax preparation resources that every Black business owner should know personally and professionally.
United Way is a non-profit organization that currently exists in almost 2,000 communities nationwide and in more than 35 countries and territories around the globe. One of the services it provides is free tax assistance and filing. Each state and its local offices have their own guidelines, so you will want to contact them to find out how they can best serve you. In many cases they can, at minimum, guide you on how to file and prepare your taxes yourself. To get started, visit their website to find a location near you, or simply call 211 from your home or mobile phone.
IRS Volunteers (VITA)
The volunteer program through the Internal Revenue Service is available to taxpayers who meet certain income requirements. These professionals have partnered with and are certified by the IRS to offer their expertise pro bono. If you run a new Black-owned business, but have not yet turned a profit, you can definitely take advantage of this opportunity. To find a volunteer, visit the website and enter in your location. They will then pair you with a match near you. You can accept or decline the offer but be careful. Taxes are a tedious and arduous task. To find a volunteer is rare, so take advantage of the one they pair you with, pass with caution and go with your gut.
The Internal Revenue Free File Alliance program is a service that is open to any business or person who meets low-income requirements, and is especially beneficial to Black-owned businesses. Much like VITA, you must go through the free filing website link to get access to their platform and tax-filer database. Once you have submitted your request, you will be contacted by preparers willing to work with you for free. To find a preparer, get started at the website provided, then browse the available tax professionals to complete the process and get help. If you have questions, you can reach out to support through their 1-800 number listed on the site.
Another IRS program, the TAS service exists to provide tax-related assistance to those who need it. They do not file your taxes as some of the other programs listed here do, but they can answer specific questions about your particular tax situation, forms or status. The TAS website is an educational haven if you are the do-it-yourself type. Visit their website and locate your local office, or you can contact an advocate directly by clicking on a link at the bottom of the website home page.
The American Association of Retired Persons is especially helpful for those who are looking to sell their Black-owned business and retire, or hand it down and retire. Maybe you just want to shut it down and move to Florida. Whatever your motivation, volunteers in your area will work with you to help you sort through the intricacies of properly filing and submitting your tax return to the IRS after ridding yourself of your business. This group of IRS-approved volunteers, who can be found by visiting AARP’s website or contacting your local office, can also assist you with other tax filing questions.
Be sure to do your research before choosing any provider organization. Each one has its own set of criteria and guidelines for using the service.
Are you aware of a free tax preparation or filing resource that Black business owners should know about? Do your fellow readers a favor and add that information in the comments.