Topic No. 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.

VITA

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.

 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 more quickly. Taxpayers who use e-file and direct deposit can usually expect to get their refund within 21 days. 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 5136PDF, download the free IRS2Go app, or call 800-906-9887.

TCE

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 5136PDF, 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.

Self-Assistance

At select VITA and TCE tax sites, you also have an option to prepare your own basic federal and state tax returns 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, Facilitated Self-AssistancePDF and Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers.

What to Bring to Your Local VITA or TCE Site

Before going to your local VITA or TCE site, see Publication 3676-BPDF for services provided and check out the What to Bring to Your Local VITA or TCE Site page.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) are independent from the IRS and the Taxpayer Advocate Service. LITCs represent individuals whose income is below a certain level and who need to resolve tax problems with the IRS. LITCs can represent taxpayers in audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes before the IRS and in court. In addition, LITCs can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Services are offered for free or a small fee.

When the preparation of a return or returns is necessary to resolve a dispute with the IRS, an LITC can prepare the return. 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 more information or to find an LITC near you, see Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITC) or IRS Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic ListPDF.

Identity Theft

See Identity Theft Central for additional information.