WHAT IS 'Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or VITA'

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or VITA is an Internal Revenue Service program that provides free tax preparation services to low-income taxpayers.

BREAKING DOWN 'Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or VITA'

VITA is a resource available to qualified low-income taxpayers through which volunteers provide tax assistance and advice. VITA sets up its services at a variety of public locations such as libraries, schools and shopping malls, and in certain other high-need areas. In addition to the tax preparation services offered, many locations offer free electronic filing services to qualifying taxpayers.

With access to professional tax services, any individual can benefit from the guidance of someone versed in the complex rules for certain tax credits. Specifically the VITA program helps people who make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and taxpayers who speak limited English. The IRS makes VITA available to any individual from these populations who needs assistance in preparing their tax returns. It has been instrumental in helping households receive thousands of dollars in additional refunds.

Benefits of Having a Specialist Help You Prepare Your Taxes

Many people use online tax software to file their income taxes. These programs offer convenience and often are easy to use, but when it comes to more complex tax returns, a tax professional may be able to get you more money back. Not only do tax professionals know how to get you the most money on your return, but you are less likely to face an audit when you use a tax professional. While online tax programs work well for simple tax returns, they may not be your best bet for complex returns with multiple W2s, deductions or tax breaks. If your tax return has multiple W2s or if you have several deductions, exemptions or tax breaks, you may want to have a tax professional prepare your return.

Other Tax Assistant Programs

In addition to VITA, the IRS provides certified Tax Counseling for the Elderly or TCE. TCE offers free tax help for all taxpayers, but particularly to individuals 60 years of age and older. The TCE, as opposed to the VITA program, specializes in pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors. The IRS funds the TCE.

The IRS provides a variety of resources on its website and has teamed with a number of tax preparation services and software companies to provide free tax service for many individuals. In order to receive free service you must meet certain qualifications, such as earning less than $57,000 per year and being between the ages of 23 and 55.

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