Free Income Tax Preparation, VITA, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

Overview

Get Free Income Tax Preparation Help

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides free income tax preparation assistance for low- to moderate-income individuals and families throughout the United States.

To get started, visit the IRS’ website to find a VITA location.

What to Bring

You will need to bring these items with you when you meet with a VITA volunteer:

  • Proof of identification (photo ID)
  • Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents
  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) may be substituted for you, your spouse, and your dependents if you do not have Social Security numbers
  • Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents
  • Wage and earning statements (Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc) from all employers
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available
  • All Forms 1095 (Health Insurance Statements) and forms 1095-A, B or C (Affordable Health Care Statements)
  • Health Insurance Exemption Certificate, if received
  • Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit, such as a blank check
  • To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms
  • Total paid to your daycare provider and their tax identifying number (Social Security number or business Employer Identification Number)
  • Copies of income transcripts from IRS and state, if applicable

Tax Credits

Many taxpayers served by the VITA program are eligible for the Federal and California Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). These refundable tax credits are available to low-to-moderate income individuals and families.

Here are the Federal and California EITC Guidelines:

  • Valid Social Security number required
  • Must have earned income
  • Filing status cannot be “married filing separately”
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien all year
  • Cannot file Form 2555 or 2555-EZ (foreign earned income, exclusion)
  • Investment income must be $3,400 or less in 2015

Does Your Child Qualify?

  • Qualifying child must have a valid social security number
  • Child must meet relationship, age, and residency requirements
  • Cannot be a qualifying child of another person

Guidelines with No Qualifying Children

  • Taxpayer must be at least 25 years old, but under 65
  • The taxpayer (or spouse if filing a joint return) cannot be the dependent of another person
  • Taxpayer must have lived in the U.S. for more than half the year

You may also qualify for these other federal tax credits:

Visit the IRS’ website for more information about available tax credits and deductions.

Becoming a Volunteer

The VITA program would not exist without volunteers willing to give their time. All VITA tax return preparers must complete an education program and earn a passing grade on each certification test.

VITA tax return preparers must pass the applicable course test – Basic, Advanced, Military, or International – before they may prepare tax returns.

To get started with certification, or learn more, visit the VITA Certification Website.