Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)


If you have limited income and need help preparing your federal tax return, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program may be able to help.

Each year, VITA and TCE serve taxpayers in communities throughout the country. IRS-certified volunteers staff these sites. They provide free tax preparation and electronic filing for basic tax returns.

You must meet some basic guidelines to use the VITA or TCE programs:

  • VITA is for people who generally make $54,000 a year or less, have a disability, are elderly, or have limited English skills.
  • TCE is for people 60 or older. Volunteers at TCE sites have specialized training in pension and retirement issues.

Be aware of what Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly volunteers can and can’t do

These services help you with simple tax returns. IRS Publication 3676-B, IRS Certified Volunteers Providing Free Tax Preparation, lists the types of returns that VITA and TCE can and can’t help prepare.

Gather your paperwork and information

If you are married and filing a joint tax return, both spouses must be present. Before visiting a VITA or TCE site, you should gather certain documents, including:

  • Photo identification,
  • Social Security cards or a verification letter from the SSA for you and anyone who’ll be listed on your tax return,
  • Birth dates for everyone who’ll be listed on your return,
  • Wage and income statements – commonly called Forms W-2s and Forms 1099s (remember to include all earned income whether you received a Form W2 or Form 1099),
  • Last year’s federal income tax return,
  • Bank account information if you want your refund direct deposited, and
  • Information to claim deductions, such as:
    • Daycare provider information – name, employer identification number, amount paid,
    • Health care information – Form 1095-A, B, or C, and out-of-pocket expenses,
    • Home mortgage interest paid, and
    • Real estate taxes paid

    IRS Publication 3676-B also lists what you should bring with you to the VITA or TCE site.

    Find your local site

    You can find the closest VITA or TCE site at http://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/ or by calling 800-906-9887.

    Note: Some sites are available by appointment only; you may want to check before walking in.

    During your appointment

    Bring all your tax documents, and be prepared to answer questions — they’re necessary for the volunteer to prepare a correct return. After the volunteer has finished your return, you’ll be told the amount of your refund or the amount you owe. If you wish, the volunteer will electronically file your return. The volunteer must give you a copy.

    VITA and TCE programs offer free e-filing. Filing electronically can help you get your refund faster. It also helps ensure your return is accurate by verifying Social Security numbers, names, birth dates, and checking the math.

    Have a different tax issue?  Browse common issues and situations at Get Help.

    Is your tax problem more complex?  If your issue is causing you financial hardship, you have tried repeatedly and are not receiving a response from the IRS, or you feel your taxpayer rights are being violated, consider contacting TAS.

    Do you feel that you need help from a tax professional but can’t afford one? You may be eligible for representation from an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), or enrolled agent associated with a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.

    Last modified February 13, 2017