VITA and TCE- IRS Free Tax Preparation Programs Available to the Public | Opinion



It is that time of the year, TAX TIME! Where can you get your taxes prepared free is a question that crosses most consumer’s mind right now.

The IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals. These services help low- to moderate-income individuals, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and limited English speakers file their taxes each year.

The IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals. While the IRS manages the VITA and TCE programs, the VITA/TCE

sites are operated by IRS partners and staffed by volunteers who want to make a difference in their communities.

The IRS VITA program has operated for over 50 years. VITA sites offer free tax help to people who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns, including:

 People who generally make $57,000 or less

 Persons with disabilities; and

 Limited English-speaking taxpayers

VITA/TCE services are not only free, they are also a reliable and trusted source for preparing tax returns. All VITA/TCE volunteers who prepare returns must take and pass tax law training that meets or exceeds IRS standards.

This training also includes maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of all taxpayer information which is very important because identity theft is prevalent during the tax season.

In addition to requiring volunteers to certify their knowledge of the tax laws, the IRS requires a quality review check for every return prepared at a VITA/TCE site prior to filing.

Before your visit a VITA or TCE site, call to find out what services are provided and also ask them what to bring to ensure you have all the required documents and information the volunteers will need to assist you. In addition, not all sites prepare all types of returns. The available services can vary at each site due to the availability of volunteers certified with the tax law expertise required for your return.

VITA and TCE sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other convenient locations across the country. To locate the nearest VITA site near you, use the VITA Locator Tool at https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/ or call 800-906-9887.

When looking for a TCE site, keep in mind that a majority of the TCE sites are operated by the AARP Foundation’s Tax Aide program.

To locate the nearest AARP TCE Tax-Aide site use the AARP Site Locator Tool at http://www.aarp.org/applications/VMISLocator/searchTaxAideLocations.action or call 888-227-7669.

Southern Bancorp is again offering VITA, a free tax preparation service, at designated branches located in Arkansas and Mississippi. Be sure to call your local branch to find out if they are preparing taxes and also ask for the start date. Also some locations only offer virtual and drop-off options.

For more information call me at 662-624-5776 or email me at Charlestien.harris@southernpartners.org.

Until next week—Stay financially fit!