How To Get Free Tax-Prep Help

What many taxpayers don’t know when they step into H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt or go to some tax-preparation site is that there are several thousand IRS-approved volunteers out there willing to do the job for free if you qualify.

For people earning less than $49,000 this year, there’s free tax help from the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. Meanwhile, for anyone 60 or older, there’s Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE).

This search tool from the IRS (NOTE: the tool only provides info during tax season) covers many of the locations of VITA sites where taxpayers can get free assistance, which usually includes free e-filing for federal and state tax returns. If you can’t find a location on the list that’s close to your immediate area, call the VITA site locator number at 1-800-906-9887.

As part of the IRS-sponsored TCE Program, AARP offers the Tax-Aide counseling program at more than 7,000 sites nationwide during the filing season. To locate the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, call 1-888-227-7669 or click here to search.

Military personnel and their families have access to the Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC), which oversees the operation of the military tax programs worldwide, and serves as the main conduit for outreach by the IRS to military personnel and their families. Volunteers are trained and equipped to address military specific tax issues, such as combat zone tax benefits and the effect of the Earned Income Tax Credit guidelines.

Taxpayers need to present the following items to have their returns prepared:

* Photo identification
* Valid Social Security cards for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents
* Birth dates for primary, secondary and dependents on the tax return
* Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, from all employers
* Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
* A copy of last year’s federal and state returns (if available)
* Bank routing numbers and account numbers (for direct deposit)
* Other relevant information about income and expenses
* Total paid for day care (if applicable)
* Day care provider’s identifying number (if applicable)

NOTE: To file taxes electronically on a Married Filing Jointly tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.

And remember that all taxpayers can seek free assistance at one of the 400 IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers nationwide. To search for the nearest Assistance Center, click here.

For Earned Income Tax Credit-eligible taxpayers, the IRS will open selected offices (CLICK HERE FOR LIST) on Saturday, Jan. 29, and Saturday, Feb. 5, to provide special assistance.

Free Tax Help Available Nationwide []