POSTED: Thursday, February 23, 2012 - 4:00am
UPDATED: Thursday, February 23, 2012 - 4:04am
UNITED STATES — Millions of taxpayers qualify for free tax preparation assistance from IRS-sponsored community-based, volunteer programs.
Here are 10 things the IRS wants you to know about these volunteer programs:
1. The IRS sponsors both the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs.
2. The IRS VITA program offers free tax help to people who earn less than $50,000. Most locations offer free electronic filing.
3. The TCE program offers free tax help to people who are age 60 or older.
4. The IRS certifies community volunteers so they can help eligible persons with tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the Credit for the Elderly.
5. Some volunteer sites have language specialists to assist people with limited English proficiency.
6. More than 12,000 free tax preparation sites are open nationwide this year as the IRS continues to expand its partnerships with nonprofit and community organizations performing these vital tax preparation services.
7. As part of the TCE program, AARP operates the Tax-Aide free tax preparation program during the filing season. Trained and certified AARP Tax-Aide volunteers help taxpayers with low-to-moderate income, with special attention paid to those 60 and older.
8. IRS partners with the military to provide free tax assistance to military personnel and their families. The Armed Forces Tax Council consists of the tax program coordinators for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Volunteers are trained and equipped to address military-specific tax issues, such as combat zone tax benefits.
9. Taxpayers can typically find locations and hours for these volunteer tax preparation services through city information hotlines and local community organizations.
10. Local VITA site information is also available through a new online tool on the IRS Website - www.irs.gov . Taxpayers can search the word “VITA” in IRS.gov and click on the option “Free Tax Return Preparation For You by Volunteers,” followed by ”Find a VITA site near you” to access the tool. Site information is also available by calling the IRS toll-free number 1-800-906-9887. To locate the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, visit www.aarp.org  or call 1-888-227-7669.