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Free Tax Return Preparation: VITA and TCE

February 23, 2016

Qualifying taxpayers can get free return preparation help with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites across the country. These sites have IRS-certified volunteers that provide basic income tax return preparation, free of cost.


Taxpayers with income of $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and those who speak limited English can get free return preparation and filing help at VITA sites. You can get tax queries answered, seek advice on tax breaks, and receive return preparation assistance.


Those who are 60 years or older can seek free tax help from TCE centers. These centers specialize in questions about pensions and retirement. At TCE sites, the majority of volunteers are IRS-certified retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations.

Finding a VITA or TCE Site

You will find VITA and TCE centers at local libraries, schools, shopping malls, community centers etc. across the country. To find a VITA or TCE site in your area, you can use the VITA/TCE Locator Tool. Alternatively, you can call 888-227-7669.

Most of the TCE sites are run by the AARP Foundation’s Tax Aide program. To find an AARP TCE Tax-Aide site, you can use the AARP Site Locator Tool. Alternatively, you can call 888-227-7669.

Certain VITA or TCE sites also offer taxpayers the choice to prepare their own basic federal and state tax return for free, using web-based tax preparation software. Volunteers are available to help you through the process.

Documents to Bring

When visiting a VITA or a TCE site, you need to bring certain documents with you. These are:

  • Proof of identification
  • Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents
  • Your ITIN if you do not have an SSN
  • Wage and earning statements (Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc) from all employers
  • Interest and dividend statements from your bank or banks (Forms 1099)
  • All Forms 1095, health insurance statements & health insurance exemption certificate, if appropriate
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns
  • Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit such as a blank check

You should bring any document that you think will be required to prepare your tax return such as receipts of expenses, previous year’s returns, and your W-2s. If you are efiling a joint tax return, both spouses must be present at the site to sign the return.

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