Taxpayers who cannot afford to hire professional help for tax preparation or resolution of tax problems can use the free help provided by IRS-certified volunteers. The elderly and low-income taxpayers are provided assistance through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) respectively. These centers only offer help taxpayers that qualify.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
The VITA program provides free assistance to those taxpayers whose income is $52,000 or less. VITA is aimed to help low-to-moderate income taxpayers, those with disabilities, those who do not understand much English, and the elderly.
Taxpayers may visit a VITA center near their residence to receive free tax preparation help. VITA sites can be found in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and are mostly located at schools, shopping malls, libraries, and community centers. At each center, IRS-certified volunteers offer basic tax preparation help in identifying the tax credits that can be claimed, such as Earned Income Tax Credit, the Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled, and the Child Tax Credit.
Tax Counseling for the Elderly
The TCE program can be used by taxpayers who are 60 years of age or older. The difference between VITA and TCE is that TCE specializes in providing help on retirement issues such as pension, retirement funds, etc. Many of the volunteers are retired individuals who work for non-profit organizations such as the AARP. Every volunteer is certified by the IRS before serving at a TCE center.
Even though TCE programs are run during tax season, which usually is from mid-January to April 15 every year, assistance is provided throughout the year to the elderly to ensure that they resolve their tax issues successfully.