Wednesday, January 25, 2012

VITA - Free Tax Return Preparation

If your income last year was slashed by economic downturn and unemployment, you may be able to get at least free tax return preparation assistance from the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) Program.

Trained community volunteers may help with special credits, such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, most sites also offer free electronic filing (e-filing). Individuals taking advantage of the e-file program will receive their refunds in half the time compared to returns filed on paper – even faster when tax refunds are deposited directly into one's bank account.

The VITA Program offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income (generally, $50,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns. Certified volunteers sponsored by various organizations receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Most locations also offer free electronic filing. 

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Form and Schedules covered by VITA

A VITA site prepares the following forms:
  • 1040EZ
  • 1040A with Schedules 1, 2, 3, and EIC
  • 1040 with Schedules A, B, C-EZ, EIC, and R
  • Form 1040V (Payment Voucher)
  • Form 1040ES (Individual Estimated Tax Payment)
  • Form 2441 (Child and Dependent Care Credit)
  • Form 8863 (Educational Credits)
  • Form 8812 (Additional Child Tax Credit)
  • WI Form 1, 1A and WI-Z
  • WI Homestead Credit (household income must be less than $24,680)

A VITA site will not prepare the following forms and schedules:
  • Schedule C (Profit or Loss From a Business)
  • Schedule D (Complicated and Advanced D's)
  • Schedule E (Rental Income)
  • Form SS-5 (Request for a Social Security Number)
  • Form 2106 (Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses)
  • Form 3903 (Moving Expenses)
  • Form 8606 (Nondeductible IRA)
  • Form 8615 (Tax for Children Under 14 with Investment Income)

VITA sites do not prepare returns for married filing separate individuals, taxpayers with international income or military status.

Documentation to bring with you

When visiting VITA site, bring the following:

* Photo ID for Caller (and/or spouse, if filing jointly).
* If married filing jointly, both spouses must attend appointment.
* Social security cards for every member of the family (if a card is lost, the taxpayer must contact the social security administration to replace card prior to having taxes prepared). 
* Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return.
* Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, from all employers.
* Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099).
* A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available.
* A check from the taxpayer's checking account or a savings account number for direct deposit (NOTE: The taxpayer can open a bank account or cash card at the tax site for direct deposit if they do not have an existing account.)
* Interest statements from financial institutions (if applicable)
* Tuition and student loan information (if applicable)
* Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider's tax identifying number (the provider's Social Security Number or the provider's business Employer Identification Number).
* Any other income information or IRS notices received
* Copy of last years tax return

To locate the nearest VITA site, call 1-800-906-9887.Or, you can find it with online search:

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Note: Some sites are by appointment only; some are walk in only. Check with your local office before visiting.

Sources and Additional Information:

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