Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Free Tax Help Sponsored by the IRS

The Consumerist reminded me that the IRS provides free tax help to certain groups through various programs:

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA)

I was actually a VITA volunteer while I was in law school so I know a little bit about this program, though my knowledge is several years old at this point. The IRS says that VITA is a program for “low- to moderate-income (generally, $40,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns.” However, I don’t remember being told not to help anyone who was above a certain income level, so I don't think someone with more than $40,000 of income would be turned away. Of course, (if I recall correctly) VITA volunteers aren’t trained to do many things that higher-income taxpayers would be eligible for, like itemizing deductions. And a higher-income taxpayer is probably less likely to be in the areas where VITA centers are set up. To locate the nearest VITA site, call 1-800-829-1040.

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)

According to the IRS, TCE “provides free tax help to people age 60 and older.” As part of the program, the AARP offers the Tax-Aide counseling program to help low-to-middle income people with special attention to those age 60 and older. For more information on TCE call 1-800-829-1040. To locate the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, call 1-888-227-7669.

Tax Help for Military Personnel

The military has a strong VITA program and also offers IRS outreach via the Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC). The IRS trains service members to prepare taxes with the special considerations of military personnel in mind.

For more information on these programs, including what documentation to bring with you to a VITA/TCE site, visit the IRS web site.

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