Preparing for Tax Season: Getting Free Tax Counseling
Tax season can be confusing, especially when it comes to senior-specific financial questions like pensions and retirement programs. Hiring a CPA can be costly. So can services offered by popular online tax services. However, there are a number of tax counseling programs available that have been developed specifically for seniors and offered at low or no cost. If you or a loved one is struggling with a tax question, these will be worth looking into.
The IRS offers two free counseling programs for seniors
1. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program
2. Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program
VITA and TCE offices operate on a local basis throughout the country, so check out this IRS page to find the one closest to you.
VITA volunteers offer counseling and basic help with standard tax forms, such as the 1040. They help a variety of demographic groups, including seniors, the disabled, and those who speak English as a foreign language.
TCE is specifically for seniors and is only offered to persons 60 or more years old. TCE volunteers can help more with senior-specific finances like pensions and retirement income.
Two non-IRS programs with free tax counseling
1. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide
2. State Government Tax Assistance
Both of these are free services. AARP is free for anyone 50 and older. State government assistance often comes from pro bono legal counselors or tax preparer associations. Contacting a local CPA will help you find state associations that can offer free help.
For a more detailed description of all the above programs, continue to this informative article from Aging.com.