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Tax Preparation Support for Seniors
Including Free or Discounted Programs to Help Complete Tax Returns
Date: March 2, 2011
Author: David Smidt, SeniorDiscounts

Hopefully all of us will have finished preparing our taxes and will have them ready for filing on April 15. But, if you are like many of us who have not even started yet, there are free or discounted services that can help you get those taxes prepared and in on time.

Tax time is a stressful time for everyone, but none so much as seniors. Seniors have special tax issues including social security income, pension checks, retirement benefits and spousal death that can complicate tax preparation and can increase the chance of an incorrect return. Knowing where to look for help can make tax time easier and less stressful.

The Internal Revenue Service and AARP have free services available for seniors to help with questions and to complete basic tax returns.

IRS:
The IRS offers free “Tax Counseling for the Elderly” (TCE). TCE provides tax help to individuals who are aged 60 or older at no cost. Trained volunteers from non-profit organizations provide free tax counseling and basic income tax return preparation for senior citizens. Volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.

The IRS enters into agreements with private or nongovernmental public non-profit agencies or organizations, exempt under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code, that will provide training and technical assistance to elderly individuals in the preparation of their federal income tax returns. Grant funds are used to reimburse volunteers for out-of-pocket expenses including transportation, meals, and other expenses they incur in providing tax counseling assistance at locations convenient to taxpayers.

As part of the IRS-sponsored TCE Program, AARP offers the Tax-Aide counseling program at more than 7,000 sites nationwide during the filing season. Trained and certified AARP Tax-Aide volunteer counselors help people of low-to-middle income with special attention to those aged 60 and older.

For more information on TCE, call 1-800-829-1040. To find the location, dates and hours of the closest TCE site, call the IRS toll-free number at 1-800-829-1040. www.irs.gov

Your local IRS office can also provide tax help as a last resort. Many IRS offices have tax clinics for low and moderate income citizens. While agents can't actually prepare taxes for seniors, they can provide all necessary forms and can answer many common questions that seniors may have when self-preparing their returns.

IRS TCE Web Page

AARP:
As indicated above, the AARP partners with the IRS and receives federal grants to provide free tax counseling to seniors. The “Tax Aide” is a free service that provides tax help for low and moderate income senior citizens. In addition to helping seniors file tax returns, the AARP can also help with estate planning and can offer advice on reducing future tax liability. The AARP has chapters in every state and can help people over 50 find free and reduced cost tax help.

To locate the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, call 1-888-227-7669 or visit AARP's Web site.

Local Accountants or Tax/Estate Lawyers:
Another place to look for discounted tax help is with local accountants or attorneys. SeniorDiscounts has many small, local tax attorneys and accountants listed on our web site; most offer about 20% off their services and usually to people 55 years of age and older. Some even have specific discounted flat rates for individual tax returns for older or low income people. Check local papers or yellow pages, as some will advertise their discounts in these pales, or contact your local accountant or tax attorney and see if they would extend a senior discount to you. Never hurts to ask.

Quick Questions and Answers Regarding Free Tax Help:

Who Can Use this Free Tax Help and Free Filing Service?

  • Low- or middle-income taxpayers who want tax help and free filing of their U.S. federal income tax returns
  • You must have a simple tax return. People seeking tax help who have more complex returns will be advised to get professional tax assistance.
  • You do not need to be a member of AARP or a senior to receive tax help from Tax-Aide, however special attention is paid to people age 60 and over.

What Are the Details of This Free Tax Help and Filing Service?
Every year, from February 1st through April 15th, about 32,000 trained and certified Tax-Aide volunteers across the country are available to provide tax help for preparing and filing your federal tax return.

  • Many Tax-Aide locations are equipped to file your return electronically, allowing you to receive your tax refund much faster.
  • Some Tax-Aide locations offer bilingual assistance.

What Do I Need to Bring When I Receive Free Tax Help?

  • Photo identification
  • Social Security card
  • Wage and earning statements
  • Interest and dividend statements
  • A copy of last year's federal and state returns if available
  • Your bank account and bank routing numbers so you can arrange for direct deposit of your tax refund

What If There’s No Tax-Aide Site Near Me?
If you cannot find a Tax-Aide location near you, the IRS offers other tax help options. For more information:

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