Tax tips: Free tax help is still available

Tax tips: Free tax help is still available

POSTED: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - 10:00am

UPDATED: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - 10:04am

 Nonprofit and community organizations providing vital tax preparation services for low- to moderate-income and elderly taxpayers are still available to provide assistance. The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program offers free tax help generally to people who earn $50,000 and less.

IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation to qualified individuals in local communities. They can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Most locations also offer free electronic filing.

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
• Day care provider's identifying number

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

To locate the nearest VITA site taxpayers should call 2-1-1 or 1-800-906-9887. You can also visit IRS.gov and use the online tool to help people easily find a location for volunteer tax preparation assistance. The new tool, available 24 hours a day on IRS.gov, makes it easier than ever for qualified individuals to find free help through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

For taxpayers who want to prepare and e-file their own tax returns, there is IRS Free File. Everyone can use Free File, the free way to prepare and e-file federal taxes either through brand-name software or online fillable forms. Individuals or families with 2011 adjusted gross incomes of $57,000 or less can use Free File software. Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms, has no income restrictions. For either service, taxpayers must go through www.irs.gov/freefile to access the programs.

Taxpayers also can seek free assistance at the 400 IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers nationwide. Locations nationwide are listed on www.IRS.gov.

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