IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

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The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is an IRS program designed to help low and moderate-income taxpayers complete their annual tax returns at no cost. The program was originally founded 1971 by Gary Iskowitz at California State University Northridge. The concept was to provide local taxpayers with free tax return preparation by accounting students, in effort to provide both a valuable community service and a powerful hands-ons learning experience for the accounting students. The program grew from a small group of dedicated accounting students to what is now a nationwide program that serves millions of taxpayers and (in some cases) provides a valuable learning experience for accounting students. Volunteers come from the local communities they serve. The founder, Gary Iskowitz (now a prominent CPA, and former IRS agent), recently was commended on the 40th anniversary of the program.

Every year, beginning in December and continuing until mid-January, certified volunteers receive training from the IRS to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country.[citation needed] VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Clients are not charged fees for this service. VITA sites generally assist people who make $52,000 or less (for tax year 2013) or are eligible for Earned Income Tax Credits or other low income tax benefits. Taxpayers can find the nearest VITA location by calling 1-800-906-9887, by dialing 211, or by searching the IRS location database at irs.treasury.com/freetaxprep/.

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