Free Tax Preparation: Ten Tips from the IRS
IRS Tax Tip 2016-13, February 4, 2016
Each year, millions of people have their taxes prepared for free by IRS volunteers. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs have helped people for more than 40 years. Here are 10 tips from the IRS about VITA and TCE:
- Trained and Certified. The IRS works with local community groups to train and certify VITA and TCE volunteers.
- VITA Program. For the most part, VITA offers free tax return preparation to people who earn $54,000 or less.
- TCE Program. TCE is mainly for people age 60 or older. The program focuses on tax issues unique to seniors. AARP participates in the TCE program through AARP Tax-Aide.
- Free E-file. VITA and TCE provide free electronic filing. E-filing is the safest, most accurate way to file your tax return. If you combine e-file with direct deposit, you can get your refund faster.
- Tax Benefits. Using VITA and TCE can help you get the tax benefits for which you are eligible. For example, you may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Credit for the Elderly. You can also get help with the tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
- Bilingual Help. There are VITA and TCE sites that provide bilingual help for people who speak limited English.
- Help for Military. VITA offers free tax assistance to members of the military and their families. Volunteers can help with military tax topics. Some of these include special rules and tax benefits that apply to those serving in combat zones.
- “Self-Prep” Option. Some VITA sites are equipped to let you prepare your own federal and state tax returns using web-based software. This is a free option if you don’t have a home computer or need much help. In most cases, this option offers free tax return preparation software and e-file to people who earn $62,000 or less.
- Local Sites. The IRS partners with community organizations to offer free tax services at thousands of sites nationwide. Sites start to open in late January and early February.
- Site Information. You can visit IRS.gov to find a VITA site near you, just search the word “VITA.” Or you can download the IRS2Go app on your smart phone. Site information is also available by calling the IRS at 800-906-9887. To locate the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, visit aarp.org, or call 888-227-7669.
Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.
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