Free Tax Help for the Self-Employed

When it comes to running your own business out of your home, tax time may be tricky. Between determining which deductions can be applied to your business, what types of expenses can qualify as work-related, what forms to file and other tax-related questions, filing season can be a nightmare.

But just because you work on your own doesn’t mean you have to muddle through the intricacies of tax law by yourself. There are a number of free counseling and advice services you can take advantage of to make your life a little easier come April.

Here are a few:

The official IRS Web site is full of helpful, free information on how to file your taxes. The “self-employed individuals tax center” section of the site includes information on topics such as the self-employment tax, how to file electronically, essential forms to fill out based on exactly what type of business you are operating, what changes to your business may mean for your taxes, and lists of other IRS resources available to the individual tax payer (including some classroom workshops and IRS help videos). The “small business and self-employed tax center” provides information on; employer ID numbers; employment taxes; starting, operating, or closing a business and the tax issues related to those actions; and tax changes that are a result of this year’s passage of the health care reform law.

The IRS also offers free tax preparation services for low- to moderate-income (about $49,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own returns, the elderly and military personnel and their families. Small business tax workshops are offered throughout the states by federal tax experts.

Each state has its own individual department of taxation/finance/or revenue that offers tax information for various types of businesses. The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, for example, includes information on tax filing and paying for various types of businesses, e-file and e-pay requirements, and various forms.

Owned by Internet Brands Inc.,’s “Taxes” section offers self-employed deduction information, small business tax accounting tips for work-at-home moms, how to prepare your business expenses if you are self-employed and other topics.

Tax services such as Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block offer some free advice. Jackson Hewitt, for example, offers information on its Web site for the self-employed, such as health insurance issues related to taxes, what types of business-related items, wages, or assets are deductable, and what types of forms you may need to fill out depending on the type of worker you are. You can pay these firms to prepare your taxes; the cost usually depends on how complex your return is. H&R Block offers free online filing and guidance for very simple returns, but you may have to pay for a more complex self-employment return.  As of Jan. 5, as you fill out your return online, H&R Block offers a feature where you can electronically ask questions of a tax adviser. The Web site also offers a free Q&A section with expert tax advisors.

This online tax service allows you to ask one free question of its tax professionals. Once you submit your question online, a tax professional will call you within 24 hours with the answer. In addition, it includes free information on topics such as what the tax bill recently passed by Congress means for you, the gift tax, and charitable giving. You can pay to use a variety of its tax preparation services, including packages specifically available to small business owners and the self-employed.