The VITA program offers free tax preparation to low-to-moderate-income (annual income under $51,000) individuals and families who cannot prepare, or need help preparing, their own tax returns. Certified volunteers sponsored by various organizations receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in communities throughout the country. VITA training involves classroom and/or online courses and self-study programs and an IRS certification exam. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools and colleges, shopping malls, and other convenient and well known locations
Trained community volunteers provide assistance with special credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit (CTC), and renter/homeowner Credit for the Elderly, for which taxpayers may qualify. In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, most sites offer free electronic filing (e-filing). Individuals taking advantage of the e-file program receive their refunds in half the time compared to returns filed on paper, and even faster if they have their refund deposited directly into a bank account.