How Does Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) work?

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is a program of the IRS. VITA sites offer income tax preparation help free of charge for people who generally make less than $56,000 annually, people with disabilities, and those with difficulty speaking English. The program is also offered on military installations.

The offices are run by volunteers who have been through an intensive training taught by IRS agents. VITA sites use IRS-approved software and electronic filing is available. The sites are often in churches, schools, neighborhood centers, and sometimes even shopping malls.

What to Bring to a VITA Appointment

If you have an appointment at a VITA site, the IRS recommends bringing the following items:

  • Proof of identification (photo ID)
  • Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents. You can use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter if you don’t have a Social Security number
  • Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse, and dependents
  • Wage and earning statements (Forms W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc) from all employers
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
  • Health Insurance Exemption Certificate, if received
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available
  • Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit such as a blank check
  • To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms
  • Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number such as their Social Security number or business Employer Identification Number
  • Forms 1095-A, B, and C, Health Coverage Statements
  • Copies of income transcripts from IRS and state, if applicable

Making a VITA Appointment

First, find a VITA site near you. Make sure to call the center to see if an appointment is necessary, or if they allow walk in service. Because volunteers run VITA sites, some sites have limited hours.