Most taxpayers who take out refund anticipation loans (RALs) qualify for free tax preparation assistance from the Internal Revenue Service. However, 81 percent of those surveyed by the Treasury Inspector General for a 2008 report said they were unaware of these free services.
Several options are available for taxpayers seeking free tax assistance.
— A helpful website for free tax information is www.thebeehive.org .
— The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program also offers tax help at libraries, schools, neighborhood centers, and shopping malls. Information is at: http://tinyurl.com/65wpd .
— The IRS Free File program offers free federal preparation and electronic filing with participating private software companies. Information is at: http://tinyurl.com/35rnq .
— A state-by-state list of IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers is at: http://www.irs.gov/localcontacts/index.html . The centers will provide free tax preparation services for taxpayers with incomes under $49,000 a year.