Get your refund fast, without spending a fortune.

How to File

There are several options for filing your taxes.

1. Visit one of our FREE tax sites!

  • Families with total income less than $52,000
  • Individuals with income less than $35,000

    You can visit one of our 13 tax sites throughout the DC metropolitan area to receive free assistance from trained volunteers. All sites file electronic returns and are supervised by tax professionals.

    Click here to view a complete list of locations, hours and directions.


Please bring the following with you to the preparation site, or risk being turned away:

  • A Social Security card for each family member
  • A picture ID for the taxpayer and spouse (if filing jointly)
  • Income from the last year
  • Birthdates for every person to be claimed on your tax return
Additional items needed are:
  • W-2 forms for all jobs worked in 2013
  • 1099 forms reflecting other income you may have received (bank interest, social security, unemployment, etc.)
  • If you paid tuition or education fees for yourself or for a child, please bring any tax forms from the educational institution. Also, be prepared to break down how much you spent in tuition, scholarship amounts, etc.
  • If you paid for childcare in 2013, bring the provider name, address, and tax identification number
  • End of the year retirement plan statements (401(k), IRA, etc.)
  • If you lived in DC all of 2013 and your household income was less than $20,000, the amount of rent, or property taxes paid as well as your landlord's name and address, if applicable
  • Closing documents, if you purchased or refinanced your house in 2013
  • A voided bank check, if you wish to have your refund automatically deposited 
  • A copy of last year's return (necessary if you itemized the previous year)
  • If you are married and filing jointly, both parties should be present to sign return.
           

2. File online.

If your income was less than $57,000, you can file both your state and federal returns online for free through My Free Taxes.  Click Here for details.


3. Choosing a Paid Preparer

Taxes can be complicated. If you’re a business owner, rental property owner, or if you have taxable investment income or other complicated issues that affect your taxes, it may make sense to pay for professional assistance. You should expect to spend between $100 and $150 on average. But not all paid tax preparers are equal.

Keep in mind when choosing a paid preparer:

Do choose a preparer who has a permanent office and will be around for months, or even years, after the return has been filed in case there is a problem with your tax return. Do ask your friends and neighbors who they use and trust.

Do ask about the preparer’s qualifications. Tax professionals should be properly trained and should keep up with yearly changes to the tax code.

Do ask about the fees up front, before the tax return is prepared. Ask if there are any costs for additional schedules (like Schedule EIC) or forms. Ask about fees for different refund options. Avoid preparers who base their fee on the amount of your refund.

Don’t sign up for “Fast Cash Refunds” or “Instant Refunds.” Most of the quick refunds are actually refund anticipation loans (RALs). When you get a RAL, you’re borrowing against your refund, not getting your refund earlier. These loans are expensive and can cost up to $100, or even more, on top of what you pay for tax preparation. If you need your refund fast, ask about other options.

Don’t work with anyone who suggests you lie or fudge numbers. You will be responsible for errors.

Don’t sign a tax return that is blank or completed in pencil. Sign the return or authorize e-filing only after you have reviewed it with your preparer. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand.

Do make sure the preparer signs your completed return and includes their address and Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Social Security Number. This is required by law.

Do make copies of all the documents you give the preparer. Be sure to get a copy of your completed return and keep it on file for at least 3 years.

It pays to take advantage of direct deposit at tax time. It’s safe and hassle-free, and your refund can be deposited electronically into your checking or savings account within 21 days, rather than mailed to you in a few weeks. Taxpayers can designate up to three different accounts for their refund—including checking, savings, and retirement accounts. .

Getting your refund by direct deposit also helps you avoid check "cashers" who may charge an extra fee to cash your refund check. Avoid extra check-cashing fees and direct deposit your refund. You can put some of your money into a checking account to use now, and put some of your money into your savings for a rainy day!