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Traditionally, taxpayers who need assistance during the tax season can find programs that fit their needs. Unfortunately, due to COVID, 2021 already looks challenging. But don’t lose hope: help is still available.
VITA and TCE
The IRS isn’t ruling out opening Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites but they are not all open now. The IRS says that, “Due to COVID-19, a number of VITA sites and all TCE sites are closed for an undetermined period of time.”
VITA offers free tax help to taxpayers who generally make $57,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns.
In addition to VITA, the TCE program offers free tax help for those who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors.
Some VITA sites are planning to open. To locate an open VITA site near you, use the VITA Locator Tool.
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide
Other services, like the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, provide in-person and remote tax assistance free of charge. The AARP has a special focus on taxpayers who are 50 or older or who have low to moderate-income.
Tax-Aide volunteers are located nationwide, and are trained and IRS-certified every year to make sure they know about and understand the latest changes and additions to the tax code. Tax help is provided in safe environments using a variety of methods based on a number of factors, including where you are located, COVID-19 spread, and volunteer availability.
The Tax-Aide webpage will be updated in early February with new features to make it easier for taxpayers to request tax help. Meanwhile, you can find some of the answers to your questions using the AARP Tax Aide’s Frequently Asked Questions page on the AARP website.
And, of course, keep in mind that free tax software is available through Free File. Free File is a public-private partnership between the IRS and Free File Inc. Free File is available to taxpayers whose adjusted gross income (AGI) was $72,000 or less in 2020: you can find your AGI by looking at line 11 on Form 1040. You can find out more about Free File here.