As tax time approaches, it is important to know that free resources are available to help you help your older family member with his or her tax preparations. There are a variety of programs. Many use volunteers who have been trained by federal and state tax officials. There are also phone numbers to call and websites that can be accessed.
The Internal Revenue Service sponsors volunteer assistance programs and offers help to taxpayers in many of its offices and other community locations.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (or VITA), involves IRS–trained volunteers who provide free tax assistance at community locations to individuals who need assistance with basic income tax return preparation. VITA is for those whom paid professional assistance may be out of reach, those who are non–English speaking, persons with disabilities, those with a low to fixed income, the elderly, and other individuals with special needs.
Many local aging agencies coordinate the VITA program. However, this program is usually only available during the few months of "tax season". To locate your local aging agency, contact your Area Agency on Aging. Contact the local agency for times and locations. Many of the programs are held in local Senior Centers.
Another program, Tax Counseling for the Elderly (or TCE), is designed primarily for persons 60 years or older, particularly those who are confined to their residences or retirement communities. IRS–trained volunteers from non–profit organizations provide free tax counseling and basic income tax return preparation to senior citizens. Volunteers travel to taxpayers' homes, if they are unable to come to a local TCE site.
Under a cooperative agreement with the IRS as part of this program, AARP has operated a Tax-Aide program since 1968. The program is available February 1 - April 15 but, during the off-season, the program continues to provide on-line tax counseling.
Internal Revenue Service
Locate a Local Tax-Aide Site
Tax Counseling for the Elderly
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
Free telephone assistance is available from the IRS by calling 1–800–829–1040. When calling this number, you may ask questions to help prepare the return, or ask about a notice that has been received. In certain areas, the IRS has local offices that you and/or your older family member may visit to receive assistance.
If you plan to take advantage of any of the volunteer assistance programs, be sure to bring social security cards for your family member and all his or her exemptions, and the current year's tax package and/or label; all forms, W–2's and 1099's; information for other income; information for all deductions/credits; and a copy of last year's tax return.
For information on VITA or TCE locations and times, or to volunteer for any of these programs, visit your local IRS office, call 1–800–829–1040, or contact your local Council or Department on Aging (contact your Area Agency on Aging for local contact information).
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