The IRS has recently awarded a total of $41 million in grants to help fund Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), programs in the U.S. that offer free federal tax preparation. Optima Tax Relief reviews both programs and the grant guidelines.
The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program was established in 1978 as a means of providing free tax counseling and federal tax preparation for taxpayers aged 60 or older. The tax preparers are trained volunteers who offer their services in different communities around the country. A total of 39 TCE applicants in 18 states and Washington D.C. were awarded a grant for October 2022 through September 2023. The grants are meant to cover the out-of-pocket expenses that volunteers incur, including transportation, meals, and other expenses.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) was created in 1969 and provides free federal tax preparation and e-filing for underserved communities in the United States. These communities typically include low- to moderate-income individuals and taxpayers whose first language is not English. They also focus on serving other underserved groups like people with disabilities and the elderly. The IRS received over 400 applications requesting grant money and 309 VITA applicants were awarded funding. Among the recipients are organizations in all 50 countries, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. The grant will help increase VITA services as well as the number of returned filed electronically. It will also help enhance volunteer training, provide greater marketing initiatives, and help cover operating costs.
The IRS has formed several partnerships with organizations across the country, including nonprofit organizations, faith-based organizations, community centers, and large companies to help further the development of both VITA and TCE. The IRS is always seeking more volunteers for these programs. Anyone interested in volunteering should refer to the IRS Tax Volunteers webpage on the IRS website for additional information.