1. The IRS sponsors both the VITA and TCE programs. They work with local community groups to both train and certify volunteers.
2. The VITA program generally offers free tax return preparation and e-filing to people who earn $52,000 or less.
3. The TCE program offers help mainly to people age 60 or older. Volunteers specialize in tax issues unique to seniors. AARP is part of the TCE program and helps taxpayers with low to moderate incomes.
4. VITA and TCE provide free electronic filing. An e-filed tax return is the safest and most accurate way to file. Using e-file combined with direct deposit is the fastest way to get your refund.
5. Using VITA and TCE may help ensure you get all the tax credits and deductions you’re able to claim. For example, credits that you may qualify for include the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the Credit for the Elderly.
6. Some sites provide bilingual help for people who speak limited English.
7. VITA provides free tax assistance to military members and their families. Volunteers help with tax issues related to the military. These include special rules and tax benefits for those serving in combat zones.
8. At some VITA sites, you can also prepare your own federal and state tax returns using free web-based software. This is an option if you don’t need much help or don’t have a home computer. Volunteers are on site to guide you if you need help. The self-preparation options generally offer free tax return preparation software and e-filing to people who earn $58,000 or less.
9. For more than 40 years, the IRS has partnered with nonprofit and community organizations to offer these vital services. Thousands of VITA and TCE sites around the nation will open in late Jan. and early Feb.
10. Visit IRS.gov to find the nearest VITA site. Search the word ’VITA’ and then click on “Free Tax Return Preparation for You by Volunteers.” 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.