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Last Updated: February 11, 2022

VITA and TCE

If you need help preparing your federal tax return, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program may be able to help you. These services help low-to moderate-income individuals, persons with disabilities, individuals who are age 60 or older, and limited English speakers file their taxes each year through various partner organizations.

Each year, VITA and TCE sites serve taxpayers in communities throughout the country. IRS awards matching funds to these support organizations and IRS-certified volunteers staff these sites. They provide free tax preparation and electronic filing for basic tax returns.

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What do I need to know?

You must meet some basic guidelines to use the VITA or TCE programs:

VITA Requirements

VITA provides free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to taxpayers who generally earned $58,000 or less, persons with disabilities and taxpayers with limited English proficiency who need assistance with preparing their own returns.

TCE Requirements

The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers FREE tax help to individuals who are age 60 or older.  Where a joint return is involved, only one spouse need satisfy the 60 year age requirement.

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What should I do?

Be aware of what VITA and TCE volunteers can and can’t do

These services help you with simple tax returns. Publication 3676-B, IRS Certified Volunteers Providing Free Tax Preparation, can help you determine what types of returns that VITA and TCE can and can’t help prepare.

Gather your paperwork and information

If you’re married and filing a joint tax return, both spouses must be present during the tax return preparation. Before visiting a VITA or TCE site, you should gather certain documents, including:

  • Government issued photo identification for yourself and your spouse (if married);
  • Social Security cards or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number documents for you, your spouse, and/or dependents;
  • Birth dates for everyone who’ll be listed on your tax return;
  • Wage and income statements – commonly called IRS Form W-2 and IRS Form 1099;
  • Information for other income even if you did not receive an IRS Form W2 or IRS Form 1099;
  • A copy of last year’s federal income tax return;
  • Letter 6419 (English/Spanish) – Advance Child Tax Credit Payments;
  • Forms 1095-A, B or C (Affordable Care Act Statements);
  • Notice 1444-C, Your 2021 Economic Impact Payment;
  • For direct deposit of refund, proof of account and bank’s routing number; and
  • Information to claim deductions, such as:
    • Daycare provider information – name, tax identification number, total amount paid;
    • Charitable contributions;
    • Health care information – IRS Form 1095-A, B, or C, and out-of-pocket expenses,
    • Home mortgage interest paid, and
    • Real estate taxes paid

Publication 3676-B also lists what you should bring with you to the VITA or TCE site.

Self-preparation option

At many VITA sites, people who earn $64,000 or less may be able to prepare their own tax returns. They can do this using free web-based software. This option is for those who do not have a home computer or do not need much help. This option is only available at locations that list “Self-Prep” in the online site listing.

Find your local site

You can find the closest VITA or TCE site online at Get Free Tax Prep Help or by calling 800-906-9887. The site indicates whether each location requires an appointment for service.

During your appointment

Bring all your tax documents and be prepared to answer questions — they’re necessary for the volunteer to prepare a correct tax return. After the volunteer has finished your tax return, you’ll be told the amount of your expected tax refund or the amount you owe. If you wish, the volunteer will electronically file your tax return. The volunteer must give you a copy of your return.

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How will this affect me?

VITA and TCE programs offer free e-filing. Filing electronically may help you receive your tax refund faster. It also helps ensure your tax return is accurate by verifying Social Security numbers, names, birth dates, and checking the math.

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Wait, I still need help.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayers’ rights. We can offer you help if your tax problem is causing a financial difficulty, you’ve tried and been unable to resolve your issue with the IRS, or you believe an IRS system, process, or procedure just isn’t working as it should. If you qualify for our assistance, which is always free, we will do everything possible to help you.

Visit www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov or call 1-877-777-4778.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) are independent from the IRS and TAS. LITCs represent individuals whose income is below a certain level and who need to resolve tax problems with the IRS. LITCs can represent taxpayers in audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes before the IRS and in court. In addition, LITCs can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Services are offered for free or a small fee. For more information or to find an LITC near you, see the LITC page on the TAS website or Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List.

Resources and Guidance

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VITA and TCE

Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers

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Checklist for Free Tax Return Preparation

What to Bring to Your Local VITA or TCE Site

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