Be aware of what VITA and TCE 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, and IRS Publication 5220, VITA/TCE Volunteer Site Scope & Referral Chart, help you determine what types of returns that VITA and TCE can and can’t help prepare.
Gather your paperwork and information
If you're married and filing a joint tax return, both spouses must be present during the tax return preparation. Before visiting a VITA or TCE site, you should gather certain documents, including:
- Photo identification for yourself and your spouse;
- Social Security cards or a verification letter from the Social Security Administration for you and anyone who’ll be listed on your tax return;
- Birth dates for everyone who’ll be listed on your tax return;
- Wage and income statements – commonly called IRS Form W-2 and IRS Form 1099 (remember to include all earned income even if you did not receive an IRS Form W2 or IRS Form 1099);
- A copy of last year’s federal income tax return;
- Bank account information if you want your tax refund direct deposited; and
- Information to claim deductions, such as:
- Daycare provider information – name, tax identification number, total amount paid,
- Health care information – IRS 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.
At select tax sites, taxpayers also have an option to prepare their own basic federal and state tax return for free using Web-based tax preparation software with an IRS-certified volunteer to help guide you through the process. This option is only available at locations that list “Self-Prep” in the online site listing.
Find your local site
You can find the closest VITA or TCE site online at Get Free Tax Prep Help 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 tax return. After the volunteer has finished your tax return, you’ll be told the amount of your expected tax refund or the amount you owe. If you wish, the volunteer will electronically file your tax return. The volunteer must give you a copy of your return.