As tax filing season is nearing, people are looking for ways to prepare to file their returns. While the deadline for completing your return isn't until April 18, 2022, it's better to start off early. There are many forms of help for tax preparation, including volunteer income tax assistance (VITA). Who qualifies for the VITA program?
The VITA program, an IRS initiative, is a free tax preparation service offered through various partner organizations. The program has been running for over 50 years and assists low-to-moderate-income individuals and other people in need of help. The IRS awards matching funds to these support organizations during tax season.
Who qualifies for the VITA program?
To qualify for assistance under the VITA program, you must fulfill one of the following criteria:
- Earn moderate income (make $57,000 or less).
- Be disabled.
- Not speak English well.
- Be a senior citizen.
How VITA works
Under VITA, assistance is provided at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. To locate the nearest VITA or tax counseling for the elderly (TCE) site near you, use the VITA Locator Tool or call 1-800-906-9887.
Due to the pandemic, in 2020 and 2021, assistance was provided virtually. For the next season, you’ll either need to submit the documents virtually or drop them off at a specified place, depending on your location.
An IRS-certified VITA volunteer will review your documents and contact you to obtain additional information to complete your tax return. Your tax return will be sent back to you for review before it's filed electronically with the IRS.
How to apply for a VITA grant
No application is needed to use the program. For more information, visit the IRS's Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers page. You can contact the helpline by calling 1-800-906-9887 or emailing email@example.com.
The VITA program isn't only free—it's also a trusted source for preparing tax returns. All VITA volunteers who prepare returns must take and pass tax law training that meets IRS standards. The IRS requires a quality review check for every return prepared at a VITA/TCE site prior to filing.
Each filing season, tens of thousands of dedicated VITA volunteers prepare millions of federal and state returns. They also assist taxpayers in preparing of thousands of facilitated self-assistance returns.
Volunteers will ask for these documents to file your return
These documents are required to file your return, according to the IRS:
- Photo identification.
- Social security cards for you, your spouse, and dependents.
- Your ITIN if you don't have a SSN.
- Proof of foreign status if applying for an ITIN.
- Birthdates 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 health insurance exemption certificate, if received.
- A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, and, if available, proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposits, such as a blank check.
- Total paid for daycare and the daycare provider's tax identification number, such as their social security number or business employer identification number.
- Forms 1095-A, B, and C, and health coverage statements.
- Copies of income transcripts from the IRS and state, if applicable.
To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.