The Internal Revenue Service has debuted an online tool to help low- and moderate-income taxpayers find Volunteer Income Tax Assistance locations where they can get help with their taxes.

The new online tool is available 24 hours a day on IRS.gov. Volunteers at VITA locations generally offer tax preparation for people with incomes of $50,000 or less free of charge, the IRS noted.

Taxpayers can search the word “VITA” in IRS.gov and click on the option “Free Tax Return Preparation For You by Volunteers,” followed by ”Find a VITA site near you” to access the tool.

Once there, the locator tool prompts users to enter a zip code to search through thousands of free tax preparation sites, narrowing the results to a selected radius. VITA sites are listed by location name, address, phone number, days and hours of operation, and the language-assistance options offered. Finally, taxpayers select a specific tax preparation site to access a map providing step-by-step directions.

The VITA program dates back to 1969. More than 3 million tax returns were prepared during the 2011 filing season by volunteers working under either the VITA program or the related Tax Counseling for the Elderly program. 

The Tax Counseling for the Elderly program provides free tax service for all taxpayers with priority assistance to taxpayers 60 and older. A TCE locator is available on the AARP site at www.AARP.org.

The new VITA locator tool is part of a number of enhancements to IRS.gov this tax season. The IRS has updated the front page of its Web site to make it easier for people to find key forms and information and file tax returns. Additional improvements are planned for IRS.gov in the months ahead.

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