Where to go for tax advice online or irl?
April 6, 2014 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Where do I go online or irl to get specific federal income tax questions answered?


-- I am layperson-plus, I guess. I have reached the limit of irs.gov. I need a pro to interpret a few things for me.

-- I used to call the IRS when I had questions and they were always very helpful. However this year, the reps were useless. I finally got transferred to a guy who told me that the IRS has stopped answering general questions now basically helps people set up payment plans over the phone.

--He suggested I try VITA, community-based tax assistance. I'll check them out but I'm not really sure I qualify.

-- I have thought about putting up a "Jobs" ad on Metafilter but I'm more interested in general "what do you do" or "what should I do" solutions.

So is there a website where tax junkies answer income tax questions? Do I call H&Block? I have no idea.

Money is extremely tight, so if I have to pay, I want to pay for accurate advice and not some cookie cutter experience. I just need answers to the questions that are relevant to me.

I don't really want to post my questions here because I am not happy about my situation. I haven't done anything wrong, and I'm not trying to skirt the rules, or anything like that.

I just want to know where to go for tax help-- ideally online. Thank you all!
posted by vincele to Law & Government (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you use TurboTax, you can ask their people questions. I know you probably don't want to spend more money, but it's only like $40-$60.

Do you have a university nearby with a business and/or law school? They may have community clinics.
posted by Madamina at 1:25 PM on April 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Everywhere I've ever lived the library has people to help.
posted by k8t at 1:27 PM on April 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

The AARP provides tax help to "low- to moderate-income taxpayers" in addition to people over 60. You can ask a question online or find a volunteer to ask your question in person.
posted by grouse at 1:37 PM on April 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

The AARP has tax help in many cities. On my phone and hard to link, but Google aarp tax aide and one of the top results should be the finder. You don't have to be a senior citizen to use this service.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:37 PM on April 6, 2014

VITA is a good option if you qualify by income ($52k or less per this site).
They're good because they're all over the US and if the person you're talking to doesn't have the answer, they have access to someone who will.
The link above will help you find VITA or AARP sites where you can get help.
posted by entropyiswinning at 1:44 PM on April 6, 2014

Start with VITA, at least. Even if your income does not qualify you to have your tax return completed for free, the volunteers are usually pretty willing to talk about tax issues and can give you a push in the right direction. But if you have been plumbing the depths of IRS.gov and need someone to "interpret" for you, it may be CPA time.
posted by stowaway at 2:31 PM on April 6, 2014

If you use TurboTax, you can ask their people questions. I know you probably don't want to spend more money, but it's only like $40-$60.

I'm pretty sure you can use their Q&A stuff even if you don't go all the way through the tax prep process and pay them. I've found it very good for basic stuff like "Where do I report this income" and not so great for "How can I figure out the answer to this complicated tax issue" sort of things. And, of course, you get what you pay for and it might not be good advice, so it depends what your level of risk assessment versus not wanting to pay is.

In Vermont there are tax people available at the public libraries. I think they have people from SCORE in but am not sure. You might want to call your local library because even if they don't provide this service they might be able to refer you someplace. You might also in general be able to pay a CPA by the hour for a few things but this is a bad time of year for that. However if you filed an extension (you'll still need to estimate and pay taxes owed or you will get penalties/fees) you might have more luck with this approach in July.
posted by jessamyn at 2:39 PM on April 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

In addition to the above, I'd suggest to ask at the personal finance Stack Exchange.

If you want to pay $5 and have more sensitive/individualized questions, I also suggest asking a member of Fiverr. This is something I actually did myself for awhile, but I don't anymore.
posted by michaelh at 3:13 PM on April 6, 2014


Advice is generally decent, although it's still an internet forum with no verification or anything. VITA is good for tax prep, but the majority of people there are just volunteers and not CPAs/attorneys and are not permitted to provide tax advice.
posted by melissasaurus at 4:41 PM on April 6, 2014

Thanks everyone. I was able to get my questions answered by using VITA and google (turbo tax). VITA was a mixed bag. The local branch volunteer was so rude to me he made me cry. He kept shouting at me that he would not review my return and that I had come in with a negative attitude. He was there to prepare returns and that was it. I was confused-- I had not asked him to review my return. I just wanted to ask a few questions. It was very upsetting because I was not at all "negative" and I was sincerely hoping for help on whatever terms offered. If he could not help me that was fine too.

The people at that community center referred me to the city's main VITA center, which answers more in-depth questions than the branches. I called since it's a 60+ mile drive roundtrip. The woman helped me over the phone. When she couldn't answer my questions, she got the supervisor. When he couldn't, he did some research and called me back later. They went above and beyond. He was the area supervisor, so I put in a formal complaint about my morning's experience. I said I thought maybe the volunteer dealt with a lot of jerks, but he shouldn't be so quick to judge.

tldr: next year I will probably just get a tax accountant if I cannot figure my 1040 out myself.
posted by vincele at 6:05 PM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

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