Taxpayer Assistance Programs

Looking for information about programs that can be run in-house or through partnerships to assist patrons with tax preparation and post-tax filing issues?

TAX PREP ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) & Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs

The VITA Program offers free tax return preparation assistance to individuals with low- to moderate-income (generally, $49,000 and below). Certified volunteers sponsored by various organizations receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country. VITA sites, which are located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations, generally offer free electronic filing.

The TCE Program provides free tax counseling and basic income tax to people aged 60 and older. As part of the TCE Program, the AARP offers the Tax-Aide counseling program at more than 7,000 sites nationwide during the tax filing season. Trained volunteers from non-profit organizations have particular expertise in the area of pensions and other issues related to retirement.

Use the online locator to compile a list of local VITA and TCE sites

Libraries interested in establishing a VITA site may want to check out the following online resources so as to better help them understand the process involved in doing so:

  • Toolkit [pdf] prepared by the IRS Stakeholder Partnership Education and Communication (SPEC) office, RAISE Texas, and United Ways of Texas.

 

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (“LITC”)

The Low Income Taxpayer Clinics are (from the IRS website’s description) part of “program [that] serves individuals who have a problem with the Internal Revenue Service and whose income is below a certain level.” The clinics are often located in central public spaces, including libraries, where citizens can access the experts easily. The process for becoming a clinic is clearly delineated on the site, so if your library has a particular interest in running the program, that is where to start. That said, this is a prime opportunity with which to partner with local community groups already running LITCs. To better understand the breadth of services offered by existing LITCs, librarians may want to check out the websites of some of these clinics:

Whether the library simply offers space, or plans to combine missions and provide additional financial literacy opportunities while LITCs are in operation, partnerships would only enhance an already robust service.


POST-FILING TAX ASSISTANCE

To assist patrons who are looking for legal representation in connection with tax audits and other tax controversies (e.g., denial of tax credits, innocent spouse relief), you may want to reach out to either law schools in the surrounding area that operate tax clinics or state/regional volunteer lawyer services that work with pro bono lawyers able to assist in this area. Examples of clinics that provide free or low-cost assistance to qualifying individuals include**:

Note that these clinics generally operate separately from a VITA site that the school/organization may operate; therefore, they do not assist with tax return preparation but rather provide assistance to taxpayers with post-filing controversies. One option to explore is whether these clinics would be willing to host an event at your library, where patrons would be able to have short one-on-one consultations with attorneys who have tax law expertise.