How to Get Free Tax Prep this Year

Tax season is upon us, and for many that can cause hair pulling and teeth grinding. Everyone has to do it, but where do you even begin? Taxes can be complicated to figure out on your own, and if money is tight it might not be feasible to see an accountant. Plus, an accountant would take a large chunk of your refund, which would be much better spent on your debt or paying rent.

Two Helpful Programs

Does this sound like you? Are you stressed about tax prep? Do you not know where to begin? Rest assured–there is help out there specifically designed for people in your situation.

1) The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax preparation to people who make roughly $54,000 a year or less. They also offer their free services to people with disabilities or taxpayers who are “limited English speaking” and need assistance with preparing their tax returns. If you think you fall into one of these categories, they are here to help!

2) The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, specifically those who are 60 years of age and older. They specialize in answering questions about pensions, retirement, and other related issues unique to people of older age. These IRS-certified volunteers are often retired individuals affiliated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS. They provide counseling, answer questions, and walk you through the tax prep process.

What should you bring?

  • Proof of identification (photo ID)
  • Social Security cards (for you, your spouse and your dependents)
  • Proof of foreign status (if applicable)
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents
  • Wage and earning statements (Forms W-2, W-2G, 1099-R,1099-Misc) from all employers
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
  • Health Insurance Statements
  • Health Insurance Exemption Certificate, if received
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns (if available)
  • Proof of bank account, including routing and account numbers for direct deposit (a blank check would meet this criteria)
  • Your spouse, if filing taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return; both spouses must be present to sign the required forms and to prove identification
  • Total money paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number (their Social Security number or business Employer Identification Number would work here)
  • Affordable Health Care Statements
  • Copies of income transcripts from IRS and state, if applicable

Services available can vary at each site due to the number of volunteers certified with the tax law expertise required for your return. This is not a guarantee, but it is a great starting place for your tax prep needs.

Find a VITA or TCE Site Near You

VITA and TCE sites are generally located at libraries, schools, community and neighborhood centers, shopping malls and other public locations across the country. You can locate the nearest VITA or TCE site near you by calling 800-906-9887.

OR Use the VITA/TCE Locator Tool below to search for a location near you.

Don’t let tax prep overwhelm you this year! Find help without going into debt. There are resources out there available for you!

Emilie is the brains, the brawn, and the beauty behind She Does Better, inspiring millennial women to live financially, physically, and professionally fit lives. She writes about overcoming debt, while balancing trying to eat healthy, stay fit, and have a little fun along the way. Read more about her journey here.

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