Income tax filing assistance runs deep in Ocean State

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By Meg Chevalier, a senior tax specialist in the Providence office of the Internal Revenue Service

By Meg Chevalier, a senior tax specialist in the Providence office of the Internal Revenue Service

More than 70 free tax preparation sites are open in Rhode Island as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues to expand its partnerships with nonprofit and community organizations. The sites provide vital tax preparation services for low- to moderate-income and elderly taxpayers.

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program offers free tax help generally to people that earn $54,000 and less per year. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program offers free tax help to taxpayers who are 60 and older.

Taxpayers need to present the following items to have their returns prepared:

• Proof of identification (a photo identification).

• Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents.

• An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter may be substituted for you, your spouse and your dependents if you do not have a Social Security number.

• Proof of foreign status if applying for an ITIN.

• Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return.

• Wage and earning statements (Forms W-2, W-2G, 1099-R and 1099-Misc) from all employers.

• Interest and dividend statements from banks (Form 1099).

• 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 amount paid for day care services and the day care provider’s tax identifying number such as a Social Security number or business employer identification number.

• Forms 1095-A, Affordable Health Care statement, if applicable.

• Copies of income transcripts from the IRS and state if applicable.

Trained and certified community volunteers can help eligible taxpayers with credits such as the earned income tax credit (EITC), child tax credit or credit for the elderly. The EITC is one of the federal government’s largest benefit programs for working families and individuals. Workers must file a tax return even if they do not have a filing requirement, and specifically claim the credit to get the benefit.

As part of the IRS-sponsored TCE Program, AARP offers the Tax-Aide Counseling Program at more than 40 sites throughout the filing season. Trained and certified AARP tax-aide volunteer counselors help all taxpayers with special attention to people age 60 and older.

In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, sites will file returns electronically for free. E-filing, when combined with direct deposit, is the fastest way to get a refund. The IRS expects to issue more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. It takes longer to process paper returns and due to a reduction of the IRS budget, it will likely take an additional week or more to process paper returns, meaning that those refunds are expected to be issued in seven weeks or more.

Taxpayers who file electronically also can opt to file now and pay later. If taxpayers owe, they can make a payment by April 18, using a secure method such as the IRS direct pay free service or by choosing an approved payment processor.

For taxpayers who want to prepare and file their own tax returns electronically, there is IRS free file, the no-cost way to prepare and e-file federal taxes either through brand name software or online fillable forms. Individuals or families with 2015 adjusted gross incomes of $62,000 or less can use free file software. Free file forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms, has no income restrictions. For either service, taxpayers must go through to access the programs. Also MyFreeTaxes is available at  with up to three free state tax returns.

VITA site information is available by calling the United Way 211 line.  Also, at search the word VITA and then click on Free Tax Return Preparation for You by Volunteers. Site information is also available by calling the IRS at (800) 906-9887. To locate the nearest AARP tax aide site, visit, or call (888) 227-7669.

By Meg Chevalier, a senior tax specialist in the Providence office of the Internal Revenue Service. To contact or ask her a question,


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