How does Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) work?

Are you over the age of 60 looking for free help with your taxes? If so, consider taking advantage of an IRS program called The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program. This program partners with a variety of organizations, like AARP, to offer free tax assistance for those 60 and over (no income eligibility).

The IRS offers the TCE program during regular tax season, which typically runs from January 1 to April 15, although some participating organizations may continue the program for longer. The volunteers that help you with your taxes are trained by the IRS to answer questions about retirement-related issues unique to seniors. Many volunteers are retired professionals.

The AARP Tax-Aid program runs the majority of the TCE Sites, although various nonprofits and charities have TCE sites. Many sites have language specialists to help those whose primary language is not English.

What TCE Sites Can Help With

In general, TCE sites can prepare basic state and federal tax returns. Some sites not be able to help with the following income, expenses, or credits:

  • Schedule K-1 income (reported on forms 1065, 1120S, and 1041)
  • Sale of home (reported on Form 1099-S)
  • Cancellation of debt (reported on form 1099-C)
  • International returns

Typically, TCE sites cannot help with complicated returns, including:

  • Self-employment income with an overall loss to report, more than $25,000 in expenses, or deductions for depreciation or business use of the home
  • Complex capital gains or losses, or when cost basis is not reported
  • Oil and gas royalties
  • Rental income and expenses – some sites certified for military returns can do these for military personnel only
  • Other forms for complex tax concerns

Finding a TCE Site Near You

Some TCE sites take appointments, while others operate on a walk-in basis only. To find a location near you, call 800-906-9887 or for the AARP Tax-Aide site, call 1-888-227-7669. You can also search for a TCE site using the IRS Free Tax Prep website or the AARP Tax-Aide Site Locator.

Make sure you read the IRS’s recommendations for what to bring when you visit a TCE site.

Consider taking full advantage of programs like TCE and VITA for help completing your tax return!