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Tax Information and Help

Nov 7, 2007
Here's a quick overview of a few of your free tax help options:

*The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA)
*The Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program (TCE)
*Free tax help for Military personnel and their families

The VITA and TCE Programs are comprised of volunteers who are trained to help with your tax concerns like Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Credit for the Elderly and Child Tax Credit. If you qualify for any of these, or other special credits, your VITA or TCE counselor can let you know. Besides help with preparing your tax return, most of these free tax counselors also offer electronic filing, also known as e-filing, of your taxes free of charge. If you choose to utilize the e-filing method, you will receive your tax return in about half the time required to process paper returns. Another way to speed up delivery of your valuable tax return is to take advantage of the direct deposit option. Funds are usually deposited into your bank account within days versus weeks or even months it can take for paper filing methods and mailed checks.

The VITA tax help program is widely available to households with low to moderate income levels. If your yearly income is $39,000 or less, you automatically qualify. The VITA volunteers are sponsored by local and national organizations and are certified to provide tax help and to prepare basic tax returns in cities and communities across the country.

VITA is generally widely available in community centers, public libraries, public schools, malls, shopping centers and many other convenient locations to better serve your tax needs. Most VITA locations offer free e-filing, so feel free to take advantage of this fast, easy and reliable way to speed up the preparation and delivery of your tax return. Call their toll-free number 1-800-829-1040 if you need assistance locating the nearest VITA site.

The TCE Program is widely available to the elderly in need of tax help. If you are age 60 or older, you automatically qualify for the TCE Program's assistance. TCE volunteers are usually retired individuals who are associated with a non-profit organization that receives grants from the IRS to operate. These volunteers are trained to provide free tax help and income tax return information, preparation and filing.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is part of the TCE program, sponsored by the IRS. With nearly 7,500 AARP Tax-Aide sites nation wide, a certified AARP Tax-Aide volunteer is readily available to help you with all of your tax help and preparation needs.

The VITA Program also has a very strong military presence. The Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC) is comprised of program coordinators for all branches of the U.S. Military. The AFTC is the primary outreach channel utilized by the IRS to connect with the United States Military personnel and their families.

All tax help provided by VITA, TCE and TCE via the AARP is provided to you free of charge if you qualify.

Here is a list of items you need to bring with you to have your taxes properly prepared:

*Wage and earning statements (for example W-2, W-2G, 1099-R)
*Photo ID or other proof of identification
*Social Security cards for yourself and any dependents
*Birth dates for you and any dependents
*Interest and dividend statements you may have
*A copy of the previous year's Federal and State Returns
*Required information regarding day care (for example total paid for day care expenses and the tax id number for your day care provider)

If you plan to take advantage of e-filing or if you're married filing jointly, both spouses must be available to sign the prepared tax documents.
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