It’s a new tax season. While some things are different, one thing that remains the same is, taxpayers can have their taxes prepared for free through one of two long-standing IRS programs. People with low to moderate income may benefit from this free tax help through one of these programs:
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
This program is for eligible taxpayers who generally earn $58,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English-speaking taxpayers.
Tax Counseling for the Elderly
This program is mainly for people age 60 or older specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors.
Here are some benefits of using these programs
• They’re conveniently located. Sites are generally located in community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other places. Most sites are open from February through April. Some sites are open through October. Some locations offer virtual services and self-help options.
• Filing is safe and secure. VITA and TCE provide free electronic filing, and e-file is the safest, most accurate way to file a tax return. Taxpayers can combine e-file with direct deposit for faster refunds.
• Volunteers are trained on tax law. Volunteers are certified to help people get all the tax benefits for which they are eligible. These may include the earned income tax credit, American opportunity tax credit, the child tax credit or the credit for the elderly.
• Assistance is also available in languages other than English. This is available at some VITA and TCE sites. Each site list the available languages on the VITA Locator Tool.
• Many military bases have VITA sites. Volunteers can help with military tax topics including benefits for those serving in combat zones.
Here’s how taxpayers can find a volunteer tax site near them
• Use the VITA Locator Tool at IRS.gov
• Download the IRS2Go app
• Call 800-906-9887
• Search for AARP Tax-Aide locations through the AARP Locator or calling 888-227-7669.
Before going to a site, taxpayers should check out the What to Bring page on IRS.gov to make sure they have all the required documents and information. If taxpayers don’t bring all the files and documents, the volunteers may be unable to help them.