Numerous income tax filers can receive assistance when it comes to preparation and filing of their tax returns this year. These services are most often free and include free filing as well. Here is a rundown of the different services that are offered in order to help you determine if you qualify.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA)
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is offered to those who are in the low/moderate income range. In order to qualify for assistance through VITA, your adjusted gross income cannot exceed $49,000. If you fall in this category and need help with preparing and filing your tax return you can look for a VITA site in your area. When you visit a VITA site you will be able to receive help from a certified volunteer. The volunteer will help you prepare your tax return and most often you will be able to file your return, for free right at the VITA site.
Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)
For individuals who are age 60 and olde,r you may be able to receive assistance with your tax return and file for free with the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program. Trained volunteers can help you with tax questions and help you with a basic return.
AARP is one of the largest sponsors of the TCE program and offers tax aide at approximately 7,000 locations around the country during tax season. You can visit a AARP or other TCE site for tax help and free filing of your tax return.
Military Members and their Spouses/Families
If you are a member of the military or a spouse of a military member, you can get help and file for free this tax season. The Armed Forces Tax Council or AFTC, is a tax program for all military personal including the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and the National Guard. The AFTC is in charge of the tax program for military personal worldwide.
All military personal and their families, no matter where they are currently located, are able to receive help with their tax preparation and filing through the AFTC. Military personal and/or families just need to visit a Volunteer Tax Program Site and they can receive free tax advice from tax experts as well as help with preparing and filing their tax return. The tax specialists at these sites are specially trained to deal with specific tax issues related to military duty including combat zone tax benefits and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Military member are able to electronically file their claim for free from the VITA site and usually receive their refund in about one weeks time, if they opt for direct deposit.
If you believe you qualify for one of the tax assistance programs here are the essential items that you should bring with you to either a VITA or TCE site:
- Social Security cards including your card, your spouse’s card and the cards of any dependents that you plan to claim on your tax return. If you do not have a social security card you can instead bring a Social Security Number verification letter which you can obtain from the Social Security Administration.
- If you are filing and not eligible for a Social Security number you must bring proof of foreign status and a ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) assignment letter.
- Birth-dates for all individuals who will be claimed on your tax return, ie: spouses and dependents.
- All wage/earning statements you have received including W-2’s and 1099’s.
- Any interest or dividend statements you have received from banks or other financial institutions.
- Total for the amount you paid in childcare along with your childcare’s tax ID number.
- Information on the bank account you would like your return deposited into. A blank check is best.
- If you still have a copy of your income tax returns from last year (federal and state) you should bring them along.
- Finally, if you plan to file a joint return, both parties must visit together so that both signatures are available before filing your return.
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