The IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which has operated for over 50 years, offers free basic tax return preparation to eligible individuals, including those who:
- Earn moderate income or less; or
- Are disabled; or
- Do not speak English well; or
- Are a senior citizen.
VITA services are not only free, they are also a reliable and trusted source for preparing tax returns. All VITA volunteers who prepare returns must take and pass tax law training that meets or exceeds IRS standards. This training includes maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of all taxpayer information. In addition to requiring volunteers to certify their knowledge of the tax laws, the IRS requires a quality review check for every return prepared at a VITA site prior to filing.
(adapted from Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers)
The VITA Process
- Assemble your return packet. Your packet begins with Form 13614-C Intake Interview and Quality Review Sheet. This form includes basic information about you and your household that we will use to start your return. It also asks a number of questions about your income, expenses and “life events” that will provide a guide for what documents and information you need to assemble for your return (see below for list of documents).
Packets are available at a number of locations in Teton Valley, including the Valley of the Tetons Libraries in Victor and Driggs, the Senior Community Center in Driggs, the Community Resource Center in Driggs, and the Food Pantry. You can also pre-register with Teton Valley VITA and we’ll send you the packet materials by email.
- Schedule an intake interview. At this interview, you will review your Form 13614-C and the documents you’ve assembled to make sure we have all the information we need to prepare your return. (Note: It is possible to do the interviews virtually. We can do a curbside pick-up of the intake packet and a curbside signing of the final documents.)
- Be patient while we prepare your return. Our preparers work as a team at scheduled times during the week. After the return is prepared, each return receives a Quality Review by another preparer, who verifies that all information is entered accurately and responds to questions the initial preparer may have had. You may be contacted during this process if the preparers have questions. If this happens, the preparer will clearly identify him/herself as being from Teton Valley VITA and will not ask for your social security number or TIN or ask you to send money. Any email you receive about your return will have an @tetonvalleyvita.org address.
- Schedule an appointment to sign the return. Once your return is finished, we will contact you to review your return and sign the Authorization to E-File form. If you are married filing jointly, both you and your spouse need to sign. Be sure to bring proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit.
As you complete your Form 13614-C Intake Interview & Quality Review Sheet, you will get a better idea of what documents you may need. Here is a partial list of some of the most common.
- Proof of identification (photo ID)*
- 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, including distributions from retirement accounts (Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R,1099-NEC, 1099-Misc)
- Interest, dividend and distribution statements from banks, brokerages, pensions, annuities, etc. (Forms 1099)
- A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available
- Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number such as their Social Security number or business Employer Identification Number
- Forms 1095-A, B and C, Health Coverage Statements. Taxpayers insured through the ACA marketplace will need to document their Premium Tax Credit receipts.
- Distributions from and contributions to a Health Savings Account.
- Expenses related to self-employment.
- Higher Education scholarships and expenses (tuition, books, etc.) (Form 1098 T).
- 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.
- Medical Expenses and Health Insurance premiums.**
- Mortgage statements.**
- Gambling Winnings and Losses**
- Stimulus payments (sent out February 2021, $1400 per person)
- Advance Child Tax Credit payments
* Required of all taxpayers
** These items appear on Schedule A for taxpayers who itemize their returns. Very few moderate income taxpayers itemize. Most take the Standard Deduction. However, some of the information on Schedule A, like the health insurance premiums, does carry forward to the Idaho return, so we usually record it if the client has it available.