The tax code is overwhelming and frustrating for the average American. For senior citizens, however, staying on top of taxes can be even more challenging as the years go by. The IRS recognized a need for a learning program and founded Tax Counseling for the Elderly in 1978.
This year, the IRS awarded over $41 million in grants to Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) applicants.
What does the TCE do exactly?
The TCE program provides tax counseling and federal return preparation services to elderly citizens (age 60+) for free. These services are performed by trained volunteers around the country, usually in community locations. The volunteers also receive technical assistance to provide the best service possible.
What is the VITA program?
VITA was established in 1969 to assist low-income communities and moderate-income individuals. Recipients of the VITA grant are eligible for free federal tax return prep and electronic filing. The grant money will help expand these services to underserved communities.
A variety of organizations across the country have partnered with the IRS to help develop these programs. Partners range from community centers to non-profit agencies, faith-based organizations, and large employers.
Optima Tax Relief reviews tax returns as a partner with VITA, providing free tax filing assistance to low-income residents and surrounding community members.
Receiving TCE or VITA services
The IRS received 379 applications this year and awarded grants to 34 applicants. If you’re interested in the services that TCE and VITA have to offer, the best place to start is within your community. Visit a local community center or county benefits office, for instance, and ask about meeting with a volunteer. Your tax needs and questions are waiting to be heard!