IRS News Release  
March 07, 1996

Volunteers Staff Thousands of Tax Help Sites

WASHINGTON - Where can you get good tax help today? How about a community or senior center, a club lodge, a church hall or a public library? These are among the most common of the thousands of sites staffed by two volunteer programs sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service.

"We are grateful to these volunteers who are providing a real public service," said IRS Commissioner Margaret Milner Richardson. "They're helping us implement our strategy to improve our service to customers by giving taxpayers with questions a number of convenient options."

VITA -- the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program -- prepares basic tax returns for those with special needs, including those who cannot afford paid professional tax help, senior citizens, those with disabilities and those who have difficulty understanding the English language.

TCE -- Tax Counseling for the Elderly -- offers free tax help to people who are 60 or older. Some TCE volunteers even go to the residences of those who are homebound.

Together, the two programs helped over 3.4 million people at 19,300 sites nationwide last year. All assistance is free and some sites are even equipped to file returns electronically.

In addition to providing training and operating materials, the IRS tests volunteer assistors to determine the level of help they are prepared to offer. The volunteer groups establish their own sites and work schedules. Local media support the program by carrying articles in newspapers and community newsletters, running public service spots on radio and television and posting flyers on library or supermarket bulletin boards.

Taxpayers going to a volunteer site should bring the tax package received in the mail, all W-2 Forms from employers, any 1099 Forms from payers of interest, dividends or other income, and any other information needed for a tax return.

Two months into the tax season, the IRS continues to see a normal filing pattern, currently receiving nearly one million returns a day. Standard electronic filing and TeleFile have each increased over last year, reducing the amount of paper for the IRS to handle. Form 1040EZ, which TeleFilers would otherwise use, has shown the sharpest decline in paper forms, down 16 percent. Nearly $24.2 billion in refunds have been sent to over 17 million taxpayers, an average refund of $1,387.

                       1996 FILING SEASON STATISTICS

Cumulative through the week ending 3/3/95 and 3/1/96

                       1995         1996             % Change

Individual Income Tax Returns

Total Receipts       40,797,000    40,160,000             -1.6
Total Processed      25,983,000    25,819,000             -0.6

Filing Alternatives -- Total Receipts:

Standard Electronic   8,325,000       8,601,000            3.3
TeleFile                552,000       2,164,000          292.0
1040PC Format           449,000       1,938,000          331.6

Refunds Certified by the Martinsburg Computing Center:

Number                17,240,000        17,429,000        1.1
Amount of principal  $18.313 billion   $24.167 billion   32.0
Average refund           $1062          $1387            30.5

(NOTE: refund data should NOT be compared to the "processed" numbers
above, since those figures reflect Service Center processing, which
is completed at least a week before refunds are certified at the
Computing Center).

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