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Free Income Tax Preparation Programe
The IRS understands that many lower income taxpayers are uncomfortable preparing their own tax returns or cannot afford to pay a tax preparer, so it created the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). Under this program, low to moderate income taxpayersmay obtain free tax assistance.
Local Organizations Offer Free Tax Preparation through VITA
Although the VITA program is sponsored by the IRS, local groups and organizations partner with the IRS to offer the program in their communities. Local VITA sites are manned by trained volunteers who are equipped with IRS materials and have been certified by an IRS exam. Volunteer preparers may be college students, church members, military personnel, or even members of professional organizations. Generally, volunteers will prepare straightforward individual tax returns (Form 1040A, Form 1040EZ, and Form1040). According to the IRS, many sites are also equipped to file electronically.
Who Qualifies for Free Tax Assistance from VITA?
he IRS does not have hard rules regarding eligibility, so each partner site is free to adopt its own acceptance guidelines. Taxpayers should inquire at local sites regarding eligibility.
In general, “low to moderate income taxpayers” qualify for assistance. A low to moderate income taxpayer for purposes of the VITA program makes $40,000 or less. Some sites may not have a strict income limit, but rather require that the return simply be straightforward. Other sites may throw in family size criteria, offering assistance to large families even though they have more than $40,000 of annual income. Some VITA sites also offer assistance to individuals with disabilities and members of the military.
How to Find a Local VITA Site
VITA sites may be located at a local community center, library, school, or mall. Call 1-800-829-1040 to find locations, dates and hours of local VITA sites.
»» Photo identification
»» Social security card(s) – your own and anyone else you will claim as an exemption on your tax return (i.e. spouse and dependents)
»» Birth dates for yourself, your spouse, and dependents
»» Current year tax package or label received from the IRS
»» Tax forms received in the mail (Forms W-2, 1099, etc.) (wages and earnings from all employers plus any interest and dividend statements)
»» Copy of last year’s tax returns (federal and state, if available)
»» Information regarding other income
»» Information regarding deductions and credits
»» Amounts paid for day care plus the day care’s identifying number (SSN for an individual or EIN for a business)
»» Bank routing numbers and account numbers (if you plan to choose direct deposit for any anticipated refund)
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