If you made under $50,000 in 2011, you fall under the low to moderate-income category in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and are eligible for free tax help.
The IRS has created a new online tool to help people find volunteer tax preparation assistance services in their local area. The online tool is accessible 24 hours per day and makes it easy for taxpayers to track down an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program in their town or city.
Volunteers at these offices are offering tax preparation services completely free of charge for those who earned an income of $50,000 or less during the 2011 tax year.
Getting Free Tax Help for Your 2011 Tax Return
To find a VITA program in your area, just click on this Get Free Tax Prep Help link and enter your zip code. Select the number of miles you are willing to travel and then select “Find”. The online tool will pull up several providers with a link to direction via a Google Map tool, the distance in miles from your location, dates of availability and hours.
You will also find out if an appointment is required, and what languages the tax preparer speaks.
Many credit unions and other financial institutions will require an appointment and you’ll see a contact number provided. Other providers located at churches, community colleges, and other locations may not require an appointment so you can just drop in on a lunch break or during a day off.
If in doubt, just call ahead and reserve a time slot so you don’t have to wait in a long line as the tax deadline approaches.
The VITA Program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program
The VITA program was created in 1969 and processed 3 million tax returns in the 2011 filing season alone. This program makes it easier for low- to moderate-income households get the tax preparation services they need without paying high fees.
Free tax services are also available for taxpayers who are 60 years or older through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program.
Use the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Locator tool to track down a tax preparer in your area by address, county, or coordinator. Search results will also direct you to a Google Map and provide information about hours, a telephone number, and whether or not an appointment is required.