The VITA / TCE PROGRAM
In late 2011, I learned that AARP Foundation, in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service, offers free tax preparation each year!
Contrary to what most believe, there is no minimum age requirement for use of this service.
AARP does not charge one penney for this, nor do you have to be a member of AARP in order to use it.
Performing volunteer tax work in 2012 was a very rewarding and satisfying experience for me. The training, testing & certification procedure was comparatively painless. I look forward to volunteering again in 2013.
A description of the program appears below. (I copied this from the IRS web site - omitting only the official IRS logo).
Please do not assume you are not elegible for help based on lower age or higher income. At the Long Beach, California Senior Center (downtown), I do not beleive anyone was turned away for these reasons.
I estimate that 40% of those we assisted were younger to middle aged.
I am told that we assisted nearly 900 people total at the LB Sr. Center. About 640 with e-filed returns; 185 +- with paper (mailed) returns, and the balance with counseling -some of whom did not need to file.
Free Tax Return Preparation for You by Volunteers
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify.
The VITA Program generally offers free tax help to people who make $50,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation to qualified individuals in local communities. They can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Most locations also offer free electronic filing.
Find a VITA site near you or call 1-800-906-9887.
The TCE Program offers free tax help for all with priority assistance to people who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement issues unique to seniors. IRS-certified volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.
Find an AARP Tax-Aide, site near you or call 1-888-227-7669 for more information on TCE
In addition to traditional face-to-face tax preparation, the IRS is launching a self-assistance service at select locations. If individuals have a simple tax return and need a little help or do not have access to a computer, they can visit one of the participating tax preparation sites and an IRS-certified volunteer will guide them through the process.
Find a Facilitated Self-Assistance site near you
Items you need to bring to the VITA/TCE sites to have your tax returns prepared:
- Proof of identification â€“ Picture ID
- Social Security Cards for you, your spouse and dependents or a Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration or
- Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter for you, your spouse and dependents
- Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
- Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
- Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc from all employers
- Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
- A copy of last yearâ€s federal and state returns if available
- Proof of bank account routing numbers and account numbers for Direct Deposit, such as a blank check
- 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) if appropriate
- To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.
It is extremely important that each person use the correct Social Security Number. The most accurate information is usually located on your original Social Security card. If you do not have an SSN for you or a dependent, you should complete Form SS-5, Social Security Number Application. This form should be submitted to the nearest Social Security Administration Office.
If you or your dependent is not eligible to get a Social Security Number, you may need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
I urge anyone interested in the above programs to visit the IRS.Gov website, or the AARP Foundation website directly. The links above are not active links from this site, but do work when accessed from the IRS website.
I look forward to meeting you next tax season!
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