Free Tax Return Filing for College Students and College Graduates
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By Kristen Kuchar

January 10, 2020

Filing taxes for college students and recent graduates can feel overwhelming, but it’s an important task. There are many credits you may be able to take advantage of as a college student or recent college grad, including the Student Loan Interest Deduction, American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and Lifetime Learning Tax Credit.

Fortunately, most college students and recent college graduates have simple returns, and there are free options for filing taxes for simple returns.

Keep in mind that some services may be free for federal income tax returns, but then charge for state and local income tax returns. Be aware that some don’t tell you whether you qualify for a free tax return until you reach the end of the tax return questionnaire, and others may try to sell you on additional options, often pitched as a way to get a bigger refund. 

Options for Filing Taxes for Free

  • Use the IRS Free File tool, which allows you to file your taxes yourself at no cost if you earned $69,000 or less in the 2019 tax year.
  • If you need a hand, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who make $56,000 per year or less. Find a VITA site near you.
  • There are several services listed below that offer free tax return filing. Before starting, check to see what are the requirements are for free filing. For example, Jackson Hewitt offers free federal and state filing if you have no children or dependents, have a joint income below $100,000 and take the standard deduction. Many programs limit free filing to people who use the online self-service version of their tax preparation tools.

Free for both Federal and State

  • Tax Slayer

Free for Federal but Charge an Additional Cost for State

  • Online Taxes
  • eSmart Tax
  • File Your Taxes
  • Free TaxUSA
  • Tax Hawk

Pro Tip: If you have student loan debt and receive a tax refund, put that money towards your debt. And check out 70 ways to pay off student loans faster

A good place to start:

See the best 529 plans, personalized for you

Deal with student loan debt better.

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