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IRS awards $41 million in grants to 334 VITA/TCE programs

VITA Medina Ohio
Free tax-preparation and filing help is offered ever tax season through groups community groups nationwide, like this Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program run by the Summit-Medina, Ohio, United Way.

As the COVID-compromised 2020 and 2021 tax filing seasons demonstrated, most taxpayers needed some help to make sure they got all the tax breaks they were entitled to, as well as just file their annual returns.

That need for tax assistance isn't going away, even if we do (fingers and toes tightly crossed) get to a more normal tax season next year.

And volunteers who've received the Internal Revenue Service imprimatur are getting ready now to help older taxpayers and those who don't make much money meet their annual filing responsibilities.

These dedicated individuals share their time and tax talents as members of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. Thanks to more than $41 million in just-awarded IRS grants, 34 TCE and 300 VITA programs will open their tax-help doors to eligible filers during the upcoming 2022 tax season.

While $41 million is a nice chunk of change from Uncle Sam, I'm really impressed by the number of programs that offer no-cost help to those who otherwise would struggle to file their federal tax returns. So the total of 334 volunteer tax filing locations next year earns this weekend's By the Numbers honor.

Volunteer tax help history and administration: The TCE program, established in 1978, provides free tax counseling and federal return preparation to individuals who are age 60 or older. The TCE sites are found at community locations across the nation.

Tax return preparation help is provided to elderly taxpayers during the normal period for filing Federal income tax returns, which is from January 1 to April 15 (we hope in 2022!) each year. However, the program activities required to make sure elderly taxpayers receive efficient and quality tax assistance can be conducted year-round.

The VITA program, created in 1969, assists underserved communities, such as low- and moderate-income individuals (generally earn $58,000 or less) and those taxpayers who have limited English speaking skills. VITA grant recipients provide free federal tax return preparation and electronic filing during the annual filing season.

Both TCE and VITA services are found in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The IRS provides tax law training, certification and oversight to these organizations assisting their efforts to prepare accurate returns.

National support, local implementation: Although the IRS is involved, the actual administration of VITA and TCE programs is handled by an expansive array of community group/IRS partnerships across the United States. The partners include non-profit agencies, faith-based organizations, community centers, and large employers.

Where will that be in 2022? The list of next filing season's VITA program sites can be found in this online listing. The similar TCE grantees are at this online page.

Both listings show the sponsoring community groups and their locations, alphabetically by state. When the programs open their doors next year at the beginning of the tax season (usually mid-to-late January), you'll be able to get location specifics.

That's usually at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, or other locally convenient spot. You can find that, as well as hours, eligibility requirements, and more at the VITA and TCE online search tools:

Finding a nearby VITA or TCE site: To locate the nearest VITA or TCE site, use the IRS' VITA online locator tool. Just enter your Zip Code and how far you're willing to or can travel.

You also can call toll-free (800) 906-9887 to find a VITA site or, again toll-free, (888) 227-7669 for a TCE location. And since most TCE sites are operated by the AARP Foundation's Tax Aide program, you can use the AARP Site Locator Tool for those locations.

Don't try any of the location tools now, though. The options are operational with updated site information between January and April.

Until then, you can learn more about the programs at the IRS' overview of free tax return preparation options, as well as at the agency's special TCE and VITA grant webpages.

Volunteers wanted and welcomed: And if you'd like to volunteer to help your neighbors file their taxes at a VITA or TCE site, good for you and thanks!

Some of the tens of thousands of VITA and TCE volunteers are retired individuals associated with the non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS. Some are retired tax and accounting professionals or even former IRS agents.

But a tax community and/or IRS affiliation is not a requirement. If you volunteer, you'll get tax-law training and must pass the programs' courses, which meet or exceed IRS standards.

You can find more on becoming a TCE or VITA volunteer at the IRS Tax Volunteers page. Or my post on tax-filing volunteer opportunities.

You also might find these items of interest:

 

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Comments

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Kay Bell

Thanks, WHG, for the kind words. And for doing the math about how many more actual VITA and TCE sites are covered from grants to the sponsoring orgs. Which got me also thinking about the additional numbers from all the taxpayers who get help from volunteers at You know what they say about journalists and math! Kay

WHG

Nice job overall for reporting on volunteer tax preparation. "So the total of 334 volunteer tax filing locations next year earns this weekend's By the Numbers honor." Of course the 334 organizations support multiple filing locations throughout their area. AARP in particular supports thousands of tax filing locations nationwide. So, while it's 334 organizations, it's a far larger number of tax filing locations. Thanks for your wonderful daily stream of tax info. Nice work!!

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