IRS Volunteer Tax Program
- The IRS provides low-income taxpayers with assistance preparing their federal tax returns. The IRS provides training and certification to volunteer tax preparers who help taxpayers within their communities. The Volunteer Income Tax Program provides free tax assistance through volunteers in each state during the tax season. Some states, however, offer the volunteer assistance during the entire year based on community needs and the availability of its volunteers. Typically, the program limits assistance to taxpayers who earn less than $49,000 annually (as of January 2011). Taxpayers must provide proof of identity and income to their local tax clinics to receive assistance filing their returns.
Free Tax Advocates
- The Taxpayer Advocate Service provides low-income taxpayers with free tax assistance. Advocates are available in each state to help taxpayers resolve specific issues with the IRS or require assistance in understanding their collection rights for delinquencies. Taxpayer advocates are independent agents of the IRS and provide knowledgeable tax assistance.
Free Tax Clinics
- Low-income taxpayer clinics help taxpayers understand their audit rights, provide tax preparation services and can even represent taxpayers during collection hearings and dispute taxes in federal tax courts. Each clinic provides its own income eligibility guidelines for free tax assistance. If taxpayers are unable to qualify for free services, the taxpayer clinics offer reduced rate tax services. The taxpayer clinics are unaffiliated with the IRS.
New York City
- New York City created the country's first free taxpayer program to help its lower-income residents. New York City's Office of Financial Empowerment implements most of the city's free tax assistance programs. Eligible taxpayers learn of tax savings opportunities and available tax credits. New York City also provides free tax assistance to its cab drivers and childcare workers who are self-employed and have limited incomes and trouble making ends meet through the Food Bank Tax Program. In 2010, these programs limited eligibility to taxpayers who earn less than $18,000 annually without dependents or $50,000 annually with dependents.
- Senior citizens aged 60 and older can qualify for the federal government's Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program. Through volunteers who receive training from groups such as the AARP, taxpayers can receive limited personal tax counseling and tax preparation assistance. The IRS provides funding to some nonprofit associations to help train tax volunteers during the spring tax season.