While there are several income tax breaks designed to help people with lower incomes lower their tax bill, a lot of those breaks are confusing and require professional interpretation. However, the people for whom the breaks are designed often cannot afford to pay a tax professional. Because of this, there are several programs which offer tax help for free or for a low cost.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is available for taxpayers with incomes of $42,000 and offers free tax assistance. The preparers are trained volunteers who focus on those tax breaks which are designed to help people with low to moderate incomes. VITA sites are generally located in community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, and shopping malls.
Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) is a program similar to VITA. TCE offers counseling for people 60 years of age and older. The TCE program is sponsored by the IRS and AARP and has over 7,000 available sites with trained Tax-Aide volunteer tax counselors who help people with low-to-middle incomes. Information on AARP Tax-Aide sites is available on the AARP website or by calling (888) 227-7669.
For more information about VITA or TCE, call (800) 829-1040.
Tax problems and questions do no necessarily stop after the income tax return has been filed. Many people need continuing tax help because the IRS has questions or other problems have arisen. Low-income taxpayer clinics (LITCs), which are provided by schools and nonprofit groups and supported by the IRS National Taxpayer Advocate office, offer help for taxpayers through audits, appeals, and collection issues. These clinics target the neediest taxpayers so they can get funding. The IRS has granted increasing amounts of money to these programs, as the interest in the programs have grown. More information about these clinics is available on the IRS website, which includes an interactive map for finding a facility in your area.