Most people dread tax season. Filing tends to be a long and confusing process, the tax laws are always changing, and it’s troubling not knowing if you’re going to end up owing more money to the government or wind up with a tax refund check.
Even those with relatively simple financial situations usually prefer some guidance when it comes to filing their taxes. Retirement, government benefits, increasing health care costs and other financial changes can make this process especially complicated for seniors. Fortunately, more and more helpful resources are becoming available to American taxpayers. Whether you’ve hit a roadblock while trying to prepare your own taxes or need assistance filing on behalf of an aging loved one, it’s likely you can find the help you need on the list of resources below.
Free Tax Assistance Programs for Seniors
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide
The AARP Foundation provides the nation’s largest volunteer-run tax assistance and preparation service available to all low- and moderate-income taxpayers, with special attention given to those age 50 and older. All AARP volunteers are certified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Federal tax assistance is available at all Tax-Aide sites and state tax assistance is available for all in-state residents. These sites are open February 1 through April 15, 2020.
Use the AARP Tax-Aide Site Locator to find a location near you.
IRS Free Tax Return Preparation
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is available to taxpayers who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities and taxpayers who speak limited English. The IRS also offers a free Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program for all taxpayers, particularly those who are age 60 and older. VITA and TCE volunteers are IRS-certified and these sites are open from February through April. (Some are even open through October.)
It is worth noting that there is some crossover between the TCE program and the AARP Tax-Aide program. Nonprofit organizations (such as the AARP Foundation) receive grants from the IRS to provide free tax counseling to their local community members.
To learn more about VITA and TCE and to find a location near you, visit the IRS website.
IRS Tax Information for Elders
For those who are simply looking for information on whether certain types of retirement income are taxable, how to e-file for free, and eligibility requirements for certain tax deductions and credits, the IRS has your back. The IRS website features a page of tax information that applies specifically to senior citizens and retired individuals.
Area Agencies on Aging
There are Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) serving seniors in communities across the United States. AAAs offer an array of services, benefits and information to help support seniors and family caregivers. Contact your local AAA to learn about and connect with elder care resources that are available near you.
Before showing up to any free tax preparation location, check if you need to make an appointment first. Some sites offer assistance on a walk-in basis while others require pre-set appointments. Be sure to bring all the necessary documents and information needed for the volunteers to help you. The IRS publishes a checklist of things taxpayers should bring to their income tax return preparation sites here.