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Date and Time: Various (but recommended prior to April 15th)
Best For: Dutiful citizens, taxpayers, the elderly, working joes and joe-ettes
Website: IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program
April 15th is quickly approaching, much to the dismay of taxpayers across the United States of America. However, the due date for federal income taxes doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I previously wrote about how tax refunds are a good thing and if you’d like to find out if you are due a refund you may be able to do so for free.
San Diego has a number of locations that provide free tax preparation and filing services free of charge via the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Per the IRS website you likely qualify for these free services if you:
“make $51,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities.
They can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.
VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations.”
If you are 60 years of age or older there is also another similar program for you. The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program “offers free, individualized tax preparation for low-to moderate-income taxpayers – especially those 60 and older – at nearly 6,000 locations nationwide”.
Even if you have not paid any income tax during the year or have not filed tax returns in prior years I strongly encourage you to take advantage of one of these programs if you qualify. The earned income tax credit (EIC / EITC) particularly is a program geared to benefit lower-income individuals and families. The EITC is a:
“refundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families. When EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who claim and qualify for the credit.
To qualify, you must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if you do not owe any tax or are not required to file.”
Basically, you may be entitled to a refund via the EITC or other income tax laws but you have to complete a tax return to find out. VITA is a free, easy way to do so.
In the past I volunteered for a program similar to VITA in Chicago and helped many people secure a refund that they did not know they qualified for. It was very gratifying and clear that the refunds would make a large difference for those taxpayers I helped.
Many of the VITA locations in San Diego require an appointment so please click the link at top if you think you qualify for this service. The April 15 deadline is quickly approaching and it is better to complete your tax return sooner rather than later whether you owe money or are expecting a refund.