Most charge you a fee up front and some even offer a tax refund anticipation loan. Those loans are not free, but you can get your taxes done without paying for it. The free help comes from IRS trained volunteers at local Neighborhood Tax Centers who have a proven track record of getting millions in refunds for clients.
Robin Uwandia is like a lot of people in Houston, she does not have a lot of time to file her taxes.
"My husband works full time and I am a full time student," said Robin Uwandia.
So for the third year in a row Uwandia is letting the free volunteers at the Neighborhood Tax Center do the work for her.
"Actually I think it is a bigger refund, and I think we were less informed when we were paying for someone to prepare out taxes," said Uwandia.
Last year Neighborhood Tax Centers filed returns for more than 35,000 and Houston area residents and found $48 million in refunds.
There is no charge and refunds usually show up within seven to 10 days. The Center does not offer refund anticipation loans and they recommend avoiding them, the reason?
"The average cost for a refund advance is 250 dollars and that is at least 250 dollars off your refund which is your money that you earned throughout the year," said Elizabeth Ferrer of Neighborhood Tax Centers.
Ferrer adds this year there is confusion about the Affordable Care Act, but it turns out this year's returns are not impacted by the law.
"For this tax season there are no tax implications, there are not penalties," said Ferrer.
Volunteer preparers say the biggest mistake tax payers make is not bringing all their documents, especially those who work for themselves.
The free help is for couples who make up to $50,000 a year or single individuals making up to $30,000. That leaves millions in Houston eligible for the help. To find out where the Centers are located near you, Click Here.