Topic Number 101 - IRS Services – Volunteer Tax Assistance, Outreach Programs, and Identity Theft
The IRS sponsors volunteer assistance programs offering help to taxpayers in many community locations.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) offers free tax help by trained volunteers for low to moderate-income taxpayers. VITA sites provide free basic income tax return preparation for individuals and are available locally in most community locations. To see if you qualify for this service, see Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers.
Trained volunteers can help you determine your eligibility for special credits such as the earned income tax credit, child tax credit, and credit for the elderly or the disabled. Many VITA sites offer free electronic filing (e-file). Individuals who use 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 the refund is deposited directly into a 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.
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 basic income tax return preparation services. 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, or call 800-906-9887. Visit AARP or call 888-AARPNOW (888-227-7669) to find the nearest AARP site.
At select VITA and TCE tax sites, you also have an option to prepare your own basic federal and state tax return for free using Web-based tax return preparation software with an IRS-certified volunteer to help guide you through the process. For more information, see Publication 4974.pdf, File Your Taxes Yourself For Free, and Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers.
What to Bring to Your Local VITA or TCE Site
Low Income Taxpayer Clinics
The IRS also administers a program that awards matching grants to qualifying organizations to develop, expand or maintain Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs). LITCs provide representation to low income taxpayers in disputes with the IRS, including audits, appeals, collection matters, and federal tax litigation. When the preparation of a return is necessary to resolve the dispute with the IRS, an LITC can prepare the return. In addition, LITCs provide education and outreach to individuals for whom English is a second language about their rights and responsibilities as U.S. taxpayers. LITCs must provide services for free or little cost. LITCs, their employees and their volunteers operate independently from the IRS. A taxpayer's decision to obtain representation from an LITC won't result in the IRS giving preferential treatment in handling the taxpayer's dispute.
For additional information, including clinic locations and languages served in addition to English, see Information for Taxpayers Seeking LITC Services.
See the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft for additional information.