Even with the free online tax filing, there are still a number of people who just donâ€™t want to do the taxes themselves. That’s why the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has created various programs to help the low-income families, senior citizens and even military personnel. These programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify.
The tax help program are not necessarily administered by the IRS. Instead, they are run by various non-profit organization. The tax preparers are trained community volunteers comprising of students, former and current tax preparers, and other volunteers. These volunteers would be able to assist you with the most common credits available to low-to-moderate income families such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.
Most volunteer sites also offer free electronic filing (e-filing). As you know, taxpayers taking advantage of the e-file program will normally receive their refunds in half the time compared to returns filed on paper and even faster using the direct-deposit to the bank account method.
For free online tax filing, visit theÂ Free Online Tax Filing page.
1. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program
The VITA Program offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income (generally, $49,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns. The volunteers undergo approved training by the IRS and are certified to prepare tax returns. Certified volunteers assist tax payers in preparing basic tax returns.
You can normally locate VITA sites at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Most locations also offer free electronic filing. Usually, universities and colleges establish their own VITA programs comprising of accounting students who are supervised by their professors. Although students may have taken tax accounting classes, they still need to complete the IRS training and be certified.
To find the nearest VITA site in your area, call 1-800-906-9887 or check this partialÂ VITA list IRS site . (Does not include every VITA site.)
2. Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)
The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program provides free tax assistance to elderly people, who are at least 60 years old. Certified and trained volunteers from non-profit organizations provide free tax counseling and basic income tax return preparation for senior citizens. Volunteers who provide tax assistance are often retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.
AARP, a non-profit organization for individuals 50 years or older, participates in the IRS-sponsored TCE Program as well. As part of this program, the organization offers Tax-Aide counseling program at more than 7,000 sites nationwide during the tax season. Trained and certified AARP Tax-Aide volunteer counselors help people of low-to-middle income with special attention to those age 60 and older.
For more information on TCE, call 1-800-829-1040. To find the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, call 1-888-227-7669 or visitÂ AARP’s website.
3. Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC)
The Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC) is the program that oversees and serves as the main conduit for outreach by the IRS to individuals who are members of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The program ensures that service members, based in United States or any parts of the world, receive free tax assistance from well-trained military tax preparers .
Military personnel and their families receive free tax preparation help at offices within their installations. These AFTC sites provide free tax advice, tax preparation, and assistance to military members and their families. The volunteers are trained to address military specific tax issues, such as combat zone tax benefits and the effect of the new Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) guidelines. Most AFTC centers offer free electronic filing so military members receives their refund in half the time and even faster using the direct-deposit method.
What to bring to the VITA/TCE/AFTC sites to prepare your tax returns
- Proof of identification
- Social Security Cards for you, your spouse and dependents and/or a Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration
- Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
- Current yearâ€™s tax package if you received one
- Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, from all employers
- Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
- A copy of last yearâ€™s federal and state returns if available
- Bank routing numbers and account numbers for Direct Deposit
- Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number (the provider’s Social Security Number or the provider’s business Employer Identification Number)
- To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.