Good help is hard to find, especially if you are a low-to-moderate income household in need of tax prep assistance.
Most tax prep services will charge a fee for preparing and filing your tax return, which can strain an already tight budget.
The IRS, United Way Foundation and AARP have come together to offer a series of programs that will provide tax prep assistance free of charge to qualified taxpayers.
How Will I Know If I’m Eligible for VITA?
To be eligible for VITA, you must meet one of these requirements:
- Income under $56,000
- Disabled or
- Limited English proficiency
VITA tax prep centers are located within community and neighborhood centers, and are staffed by IRS-certified volunteers who will answer your tax questions, prepare your tax return, and e-file it on your behalf.
VITA volunteer centers are staffed by volunteer CPAs, tax preparers, Enrolled Agents, interpreters, and tax guides.
You can locate a VITA tax prep center by suing the IRS VITA site locator.
Does AARP Provide Tax Services?
If you are an older adult in need of essential tax counseling for retirement planning, tax filing, and questions regarding your tax status, AARP has partnered with VITA to provide free tax counseling services to older adults
TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) is staffed by volunteers, some of whom are retired CPAs or other financial professionals with tax expertise.
TCE is administered under AARP’s Tax Aide program.
DIY Tax Prep
If you’re confident enough to take the DIY approach to filing your taxes, selected VITA/TCE sites will have the “Self prep” designation on their listing. You can file a basic tax return for free, and don’t worry if you encounter problems or have questions. IRS-certified volunteers will be available to help.
You’ll have the opportunity to prepare and e-file your return in one setting and in one appointment.
What Should I Bring To My Tax Prep Appointment?
Regardless of which service you choose, be sure to bring the following with you:
- Income documentation from all employers: W2s and 1099s from any independent contracting work
- Photo i.d.
- Social security card or Individual Tax Identification Number letter
- Name, address, and Employer Identification Number for childcare/elder care providers if you will be claiming the Dependent Tax Credit
- Bank account number for direct deposit for your refund
- Form 1095A, B, or C for your state return
- If you’re filing jointly, your spouse or domestic partner will need to come with you to sign the return
- Forms 1098 T or E for any education-related expenses such as student loan interest or tuition
- A copy of your 2018 tax returns (federal and state).
Both the VITA and TCE program provide a valuable service for eligible taxpayers at no cost, and are located close by in community centers, senior centers and neighborhood centers.
VITA and TCE programs operate January through April. Volunteers are committed to providing accessible tax and tax return filing services to eligible taxpayers.