IRS News Release  
March 10, 1994

Volunteers Help With Tax Returns,
Earned Income Credit Claims

WASHINGTON - There may be no free lunch, but nearly 95,000 volunteers will give free tax help to over three million people this year. The volunteers, trained through two Internal Revenue Service programs, staffed 23,000 sites nationwide last year, helping people who can least afford tax preparation fees.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program helps those with basic tax returns or special needs, such as students, non-English-speaking residents or military personnel. This year, VITA is forming partnerships with community groups to help taxpayers claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (ETIC) for 1993 and take advantage of the advance ETIC payment option in 1994.

"Our volunteer programs are an important part of our effort to get the Earned Income Tax Credit to all those who qualify for it and to encourage eligible taxpayers to receive advance payments of the credit while they work," said IRS Commissioner Margaret Milner Richardson.

The ETIC is available to people who have 1993 incomes under $23,050 and have a child living with them and could be worth as much as $2,364 in their refund checks. Workers may also claim the credit each payday instead of waiting until they file tax returns. Taxpayers who qualify for the credit in 1994 could have advance EITC payments of up to $102 a month added to their paychecks during the year.

Volunteers in the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program target their help to persons age 60 and over, with special emphasis on shut-ins and those in nursing homes. Since senior citizens may have a child or grandchild living with them, TCE volunteers also receive training on claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The volunteer programs are also expanded alternative filing methods. The American Bar Association's Student Law Division is working with the IRS to offer free electronic filing through law school VITA groups. The American Association of Retired Persons--the largest TCE group--has provided 1040PC software to some of its sites.

This year's early filing gap continues to shrink -- as of March 5, 1994, the IRS had received 41.7 million returns, about 1.5 million fewer than last year. Federal tax refunds issued now total over $23.5 billion. At $1,121, the average refund is up more than seven percent.

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