VITA and Free File Offer Options for Filing No-cost Tax Return

AMES, Iowa — Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites are open across the state to help individuals and families who have incomes at or below $51,000 file their tax returns at no cost. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach family finance specialists have assisted a number of communities with establishing these sites to provide the service.

“You may find a site near you between now and April using the VITA Locator Tool on the IRS website or call 800-906-9887. Iowa residents also may call 211 to locate sites,” said Joyce Lash, an extension family finance specialist.

The focus of the volunteer service is to ensure that low- to moderate-income taxpayers file the necessary forms to receive tax credits that can benefit families financially.

“Individuals can’t receive Earned Income Tax Credits or Child Tax Credits if they complete the 1040EZ tax form to report income from a W-2. But professional services to prepare a 1040 form with itemized deductions and a state return may cost an average of $200,” Lash said.

Through VITA, volunteers who are certified to prepare tax returns help families maximize their tax return and benefit from the added savings of using the free service. Last year VITA services supported by ISU Extension and Outreach prepared 1,600 returns, Lash said.

Individuals who wish to file their own returns also can use Free File, available at the IRS website,

“If your income is at or below $57,000 you can use free software to submit your federal return electronically. The software is being offered through a partnership agreement between the IRS and commercial tax software companies,” Lash added.