Are you trying to make sense of those complicated IRS forms? The Internal Revenue Service has sources for free help.
For low- and moderate-income taxpayers, seniors, people with disabilities and non English speakers, the IRS is providing free tax help through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. The IRS will set up VITA locations at community centers, libraries and malls to assist taxpayers with filling out returns.
The general rule of thumb is individuals must make $50,000 or less a year.
And, again, the government won’t stick you with a fee for preparation because it’s all free and done by volunteers.
The program, known as VITA, offers tax assistance at over 12,000 locations scattered across the United States. The website provides a list of locations across the U.S. . You can check online to see if your nearest location requires an appointment.
Here’s a list of requirements for assistance from VITA/TCE volunteers:
- Proof of identification – Picture ID
- Social Security Cards for you, your spouse and dependents or a Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration or
- Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter for you, your spouse and dependents
- Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
- Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
- Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc from all employers
- Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
- A copy of last year’s federal and state returns if available
- Proof of bank account routing numbers and account numbers for Direct Deposit, such as a blank check
- Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number (the provider’s Social Security Number or the provider’s business Employer Identification Number) if appropriate
- To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.
Last year, the program helped more than 3 million people prepare their tax returns. And, tax prepares are well versed in tax credits. According to IRS.gov, volunteers will also “inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.“