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. 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, 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, or call 800-906-9887. Visit AARP or call 888-AARPNOW (888-227-7669) to find the nearest AARP site.

What to Bring to Your Local VITA or TCE Site

Before going to your local VITA or TCE site, see Publication 3676-B (PDF) for services provided and What to Bring to Your Local VITA or TCE Site.

Identity Theft

IRS offers specialized assistance to taxpayers affected by identity theft at 800-908-4490. Call 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.

See Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection and Victim Assistance for additional information.

More Tax Topic Categories

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: August 10, 2016