Topic 101 - IRS Services – Volunteer Tax Assistance, Outreach Programs and Identity Theft

The IRS sponsors volunteer assistance programs and offers help to taxpayers in many community locations.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) offers free tax help by trained volunteers to low to moderate-income taxpayers. VITA sites are locally available at community locations, and provide free basic income tax return preparation to individuals. To see if you qualify, see Publication 910 (PDF), IRS Guide to Free Tax Services, at our website, www.irs.gov. Volunteers prepare Form 1040A (PDF), Form 1040EZ (PDF), and Form 1040 (PDF).

Trained volunteers can help you with special credits such as the earned income tax credit (EITC), child tax credit and credit for the elderly or the disabled, which you may qualify for.

In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, many VITA sites offer free electronic filing (e-file). Individuals taking advantage of the e-file program will receive their refunds in half the time compared to returns filed on paper – even faster if you have your refund deposited directly into your bank account. Note: Your refund should only be deposited directly into accounts that are in your own name, your spouse’s name or both if it’s a joint account.

Learn the locations, dates, and hours of the volunteer sites by going to the VITA locator tool on IRS.gov or call 800-906-9887.

Another program, Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE), is a grant program designed to offer free tax assistance to individuals aged 60 years or older with low to moderate incomes. TCE sites are located at convenient community locations. TCE counselors offer free income tax return preparation services, and can prepare Form 1040, Form 1040A, Form 1040EZ, and simple Form 1040, Schedule D (PDF). The AARP participates in the TCE program. To locate the nearest VITA/TCE site, go to the VITA locator tool on IRS.gov or call 800-906-9887. To find the nearest AARP site go to www.aarp.org/money/taxaide/, or call 888-AARPNOW or 888-227-7669.

If you plan to take advantage of any of the volunteer assistance programs, be sure to bring photo identification as well as social security cards for you and all your exemptions, all Forms W-2 and Forms 1099, information for other income, documentation for all deductions/credits, a copy of last year's tax return, amounts paid for day care as well as the day care providers personal reporting information, and bank routing numbers if you are expecting a refund and choose direct deposit.

You should contact the IRS Identity Theft Hotline at 800-908-4490 if you ever believe:

  • Your tax records are currently affected by identity theft and you have not been able to resolve the matter, or
  • You may be at risk of identity theft due to a lost/stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, etc.
Additional information regarding identity protection and your tax records can also be found at the IRS.gov website.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: July 10, 2014