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No-Cost Tax Help for Most Americans

In IR-2018-85, the IRS explained how taxpayers may qualify for free tax help. If you generally make $54,000 or less, are disabled or have limited English proficiency, you may visit one of the over 11,000 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites nationwide. VITA sites are often located at community and neighborhood centers.

Another option is the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program. It offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those ages 60 and older. IRS certified VITA and TCE volunteers are trained to help with many tax questions, including questions about the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is available for workers who earned less than $53,930 in 2017. Last year, almost 27 million eligible workers and families received over $65 billion in EITC. The maximum EITC amount for 2017 is $6,318 for qualifying families with three or more children. Individuals must file a tax return to receive the credit.

Taxpayers can find the nearest VITA or TCE location on www.IRS.gov, the IRS mobile app "IRS2Go" or by calling 800-906-9887. Taxpayers should bring the following documents or information with them when visiting a VITA or TCE site.
  1. Proof of identification (photo ID) for taxpayer and spouse
  2. Social Security cards for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) if the taxpayer, spouse or dependent does not have a Social Security number
  3. Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
  4. Birth dates for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents
  5. Wage and earning statements (Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R,1099-Misc) from all employers and other payers
  6. Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
  7. Health Insurance Exemption Certificate, if received
  8. A copy of last year's federal and state tax returns, if available
  9. Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit, such as a blank check
  10. To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms
  11. Total amount paid for daycare services and the daycare provider's tax identifying number, such as their Social Security number or business Employer Identification Number
  12. Forms 1095-A, B and C, Health Coverage Statements
  13. Copies of income transcripts from IRS and state, if applicable
For military personnel, the Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC) consists of tax program coordinators for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. AFTC oversees the operation of the military tax programs worldwide.

In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, each site will file returns electronically for free. Combining e-file with direct deposit is the fastest and most accurate way to file. The IRS issues nine out of 10 refunds in 21 days or less.

Published April 6, 2018

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