Tax Preparation Help  

Taxpayer Assistance Programs

The IRS has programs that offer free assistance with tax return preparation and tax counseling using volunteers trained by the IRS. Call the IRS office in your area and ask for the Territory Manager or the Communications Manager for more information on these programs. They can provide you with times and locations of services and information on becoming a volunteer.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

The VITA program offers free tax help to people who cannot afford paid professional assistance. Volunteers, trained by the IRS, help prepare basic tax returns for taxpayers with special needs — including people with disabilities, those with a low to fixed income, non-English speaking people, and the elderly.

VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. A number of locations also offer free electronic filing.

Volunteers (college students; law students; members of professional busi-ness and accounting organizations; and members of retirement, religious, military, and community groups) may take part in various VITA program activities:

  • directly preparing returns
  • teaching taxpayers to prepare their own returns
  • managing a VITA site
  • arranging publicity

The IRS provides VITA training materials and instructors. Training is conducted at times and locations convenient to volunteers and instructors. Generally, these sessions are offered in December through January each year.

For more information about the VITA program, becoming a VITA volunteer, and to find the location of the VITA site in your area, call your local IRS office and ask to speak to the Territory Manager, or call IRS tax assistance at 1-800-829-1040.

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)

The TCE program provides free tax help to people age 60 and older. Volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS. Grant funds are used to reimburse volunteers for out-of-pocket expenses. Some of the expenses may include transportation, meals, and other expenses incurred in training or in providing tax counseling assistance in any of the locations where the elderly are located (retirement homes, neighborhood sites, or private houses of the homebound).

Call your local IRS office for more information on this program and to find locations of TCE assistance in your area.

As part of the IRS-sponsored Tax Counseling for the Elderly program, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Foundation offers an AARP Tax-Aide counseling program at more than 10,000 sites nationwide during the filing season. Trained with IRS materials and certified by an IRS examination, AARP Tax-Aide volunteer counselors can help with most tax circumstances faced by low and moderate-income taxpayers age 60 and older. Younger taxpayers are helped as counselor-time permits.

To find an AARP Tax-Aide volunteer site in your community call 1-888-AARPNOW; or from a computer access the Internet site locator at

Bank, Post Office and Library (BPOL) Program

Although free filing materials (forms and instructions) are placed in participating banks, post offices, and libraries nationwide, patrons may still need assistance to get the proper tax publications, forms, and instruction booklets to file their tax return. The IRS may be able to provide volunteers to assist taxpayers at BPOL outlets in your community during the filing season. You can call your local IRS office and ask to speak to the Territory Manager to request a volunteer for your community BPOL outlet, and to find out how to become a BPOL volunteer. You can also call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or access the IRS Web site at for volunteer information. Click on your state and find the Territory Manager contact information.

Student Tax Clinic Program (STCP)

The STCP is designed to provide free tax counseling to taxpayers who would not normally obtain counsel in audit, appeals, and tax court cases. Law and graduate accounting students staff the STCP. These students must receive special permission from the IRS National Headquarters Director of Practice to represent taxpayers before the IRS during examination and appeals proceedings.

Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITC) Grant Program

The IRS LITC grant program, authorized under the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, gives grants to organizations that:

  • provide legal assistance to low-income taxpayers in controversy with the IRS
  • inform individuals (whose second language is English) of their tax rights and responsibilities

The grants are not available to individuals. However, through this grant program, the IRS awards qualifying organizations grants of up to $100,000 per year to develop, expand, and continue low-income taxpayer clinics. The clinics are administered and sponsored by accredited law, business, and accounting schools where students represent taxpayers in tax controversies before the IRS or before the courts. In addition, the clinics may be administered and sponsored by non-profit organizations that meet program requirements.

To learn more about the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics Grant Program, call your local IRS office and ask to speak to the Territory Manager You can also call the IRS at 1-800-829-3676 and order a free copy of Publication 3319, LITC Grant Application Package and Guidelines. Each year, Publication 3319 is revised to provide the current year application deadline date. This product is available on the IRS Web site.

Taxpayer Advocate Service

If you have an ongoing tax issue with the IRS, that has not been resolved through normal channels, you may contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service (formerly the Problem Resolution Program) for assistance. The Taxpayer Advocate Service has the ability to cut through red tape and can often help with delayed refunds, unanswered inquiries, and incorrect billing notices. Generally, the Taxpayer Advocate can help if, as a result of the administration of the tax laws, you:

  • are suffering, or are about to suffer, a significant hardship
  • are facing an immediate threat of adverse action (penalties, interest, liens)
  • will incur significant costs (including fees for professional representation)
  • will suffer irreparable injury or long-term adverse impact
  • have experienced a delay of more than 30 days to resolve an issue
  • have not received a response or resolution through normal channels by the date promised

Hardship situations and other issues that are referred to the Taxpayer Advocate are reviewed on the individual merits of each case. It is important to remember that the Taxpayer Advocate is not a substitute for established IRS procedures or the formal appeals process. The Taxpayer Advocate cannot reverse legal or technical tax determinations.

To reach a Taxpayer Advocate, call 1-877-777-4778. You can also call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 and ask for Taxpayer Advocate assistance. Deaf and hearing-impaired, with access to teletype-writer/telecommunication device for the deaf (TTY/TDD) equipment, may call the IRS at 1-800-829-4059.

For more information about Taxpayer Advocate Service and for a list of Taxpayer Advocate telephone numbers and addresses, listen to TeleTax topic #104 (See Table of Contents in this booklet for TeleTax page number), or call the IRS at 1-800-829-3676 for a copy of Publication 1546, The Taxpayer Advocate Service of the Internal Revenue Service. You may also download this publication from the IRS Web site at


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