The Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers that free tax help is available in-person at nearly 11,000 volunteer sites nationwide and online through IRS Free File.
During the 2019 filing season, volunteers helped prepare over 3.5 million returns at thousands of tax sites nationwide. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to individuals who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly and individuals with limited English proficiency who need assistance in preparing their taxes. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program also offers free tax help to taxpayers, particularly those age 60 and older.
IRS-certified VITA and TCE volunteers are trained to help taxpayers claim the tax credits they are entitled to such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit and Credit for Other Dependents.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a significant tax credit for workers who earned $55,952 or less in 2019. The IRS estimates four of five eligible taxpayers claim and get the EITC. Nationwide in 2019, 25 million taxpayers received over $61 billion in EITC. The average EITC amount received was $2,504. The EITC is as much as $6,557 for a family with children or up to $529 for taxpayers who do not have a qualifying child.
The VITA and TCE programs can help answer many EITC questions and help taxpayers claim the credit if they qualify. Taxpayers may also use the IRS.gov EITC Assistant to help them determine their eligibility.
To find the nearest VITA or TCE site, taxpayers can use the VITA and TCE locator tool available on IRS.gov, download the IRS mobile app IRS2GO or call 800-906-9887. Help in other languages – Chinese, Cantonese, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese – is also available at select locations across the country. The locator tool indicates where these services are offered.
For assistance preparing a tax return at a VITA or TCE site, taxpayers must bring all required documents and information including:
• Proof of identification (photo ID) for taxpayer and spouse
• Social Security cards for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents
• An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter may be substituted for those who do not have a Social Security number (SSN).
• Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
• Birth dates for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents
• Wage and earning statements (Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc) from all employers and other payers
• Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
• A copy of last year’s federal and state tax returns, if available
• Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit such as a blank check
• To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms
• Total amount paid for daycare services and the daycare provider's tax identifying number such as their SSN or business Employer Identification Number
• Forms 1095-A Health Insurance Marketplace Statements to reconcile advance payments of Premium Tax Credit
• Copies of unmasked income transcripts from IRS and state, if applicable
Use IRS Free File online
Taxpayers that want to prepare and file their tax returns electronically can use IRS Free File. IRS Free File offers brand-name tax software for taxpayers who earned $69,000 or less in 2019 so they can prepare and file their tax federal returns free. Taxpayers who earned more can use Free Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. IRS Free File is only available through the IRS website by visiting IRS.gov/freefile.