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 in most community locations, and provide free basic income tax return preparation for individuals. To see if you qualify for this service, see Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers on IRS.gov. Volunteers prepare Form 1040A (PDF), Form 1040EZ (PDF) and Form 1040 (PDF).

Trained volunteers can help you determine your eligibility for special credits such as the earned income tax credit (EITC), child tax credit and credit for the elderly or the disabled. Many VITA sites offer free electronic filing (e-file). Individuals taking advantage of the e-file program benefit from a shorter processing time and usually 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: You should only choose direct deposit of your refund into accounts that are in your own name, your spouse’s name or both if it’s a joint account.

To find the locations, dates and hours of availability for the volunteer sites near you, use the VITA locator tool, see Publication 5136 (PDF), download the free IRS2Go app, all available on IRS.gov, or call 800-906-9887.

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) is another 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, use the VITA locator tool, see Publication 5136 (PDF), download the free IRS2Go app, all available on IRS.gov, or call 800-906-9887. To find the nearest AARP site, go to AARP.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide or call 888-AARPNOW (888-227-7669).

What to bring to your local VITA or TCE site:

  • Proof of identification (photo ID) for you and/or your spouse
  • Social Security cards or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) notices/cards for you and, if applicable, your spouse and your dependents
  • Proof of foreign status if applying for an ITIN
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
  • All Forms W-2 and 1099s as well as information for other income
  • Documentation for all deductions and credits
  • A copy of the last year's federal and state tax returns, if available
  • Amounts paid to a daycare provider and their tax ID number such as their Social Security number or employer identification number (EIN)
  • Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit
  • Both spouses must be present to e-file a joint return

If you believe you have been or are at risk of being the victim of identity theft, you should contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU) at 800-908-4490.

Call IPSU if:

  • 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.

You may also find additional information regarding identity protection and your tax records at IRS.gov.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: January 23, 2015