Federal Program Offers Free Tax Preparation Services

Tax day is fast approaching and if you’re putting off filing your taxes, a federal program could help you get them done for free. The assistance is part of a federal program called Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or VITA where IRS certified volunteers help taxpayers fill out and file their returns.

The program is offered at dozens of locations throughout South Florida, including the non-profit organization Hispanic Unity of Florida in Hollywood.

“Basically we provide free tax preparation for families and individuals that had an income last year of $55,000 or less,” said Ana Maria Ceballos a VITA Program Manager. The service is offered in English, Spanish, Creole and Portuguese.

Sal Baldanza has been getting his taxes done at Hispanic Unity of Florida for several years. “Taxes that get done by a CPA cost a lot of money and I don’t have a lot of money so I come here,” he said.

If you qualify for the VITA program, you’ll need to take your original social security card, photo ID, proof of income such as W-2’s and 1099’s, proof of expenses, healthcare coverage information, your child’s daycare EIN number if you paid for that service and a copy of last year’s tax return.

This year, you’ll notice several changes. “The basic changes are the 1040 that is the form that normally we use to prepare taxes to file taxes, before we have the 1040 A, 1040 EZ, now it’s just 1040 for everybody,” Ceballos said.

Also, standard deductions nearly doubled, personal exemptions were eliminated and the child tax credit went up.

To find the nearest VITA center, go here and enter your area code. In Broward, you can also call 211.

If you make more than $55,000, you can prepare your taxes for free here.

Seniors can also get their tax preparation done for free at AARP.

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