Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost?

VITA provides tax preparation and e-filing at no charge, for taxpayers who fall within the income limitations (see the main page for this year's income limits).

How long will it take to get my taxes done?

The time it takes to prepare a return varies depending on how complex the return is, and how many W-2s or other tax documents are needed to complete the return. If the VITA site you go to does not take appointments, you may also have to wait to get in to see a tax preparer depending on how busy the site it. At peak times, it is not unusual for a walk-in site to have waiting times of an hour or more. Contact your local site to find out when is the best time to arrive to minimize your wait.

Can I make an appointment?

The Longmont VITA site does NOT make reservations or appointments.

The Longmont Senior Citizen Center DOES require advance reservations.

What types of returns can a VITA site prepare?

All VITA sites can prepare basic tax returns, with these forms:

Some VITA sites can also prepare international or military returns. More complex returns CANNOT be prepared at a VITA site. This includes returns with the following forms:

Schedule C - Business Expenses with:

What is e-filing?

E-filing, or Electronic Filing, is transmitting your return directly to the IRS via computer. This allows your return to get to the IRS faster, so it can be processed sooner. It also saves postage, since you do not need to mail in a paper copy of your return.

Can I get an instant refund?

VITA sites do not offer instant refunds. Instant refunds are a bad idea, that cost you a lot of money. Instant refunds are designed to take advantage of taxpayers who are strapped for cash. Also called Refund Anticipation Loans, these do not provide instant payment of your full tax refund. Instead, they are loaning you your own money, at a very high interest rate. Not only will you pay to have your return prepared, there are additional fees for e-filing, and fees and interest charged for the privilege of borrowing your own money. Often, you will be charged an additional fee when you cash the check that you receive. In most cases, you will spend hundreds of dollars to receive your refund only 7-10 days faster than if you went to a VITA site and had your return e-filed and deposited directly into your bank account.

What identification should I bring?

You will need to bring a photo ID, as well as Social Security Cards or ITINs for yourself, your spouse, and any dependents.You must have either a Social Security Card, a Social Security Statement (form SSA-1099), or original ITIN paperwork for everyone listed on the return - it is not sufficient to know the number. This is true even if you go back to the same site where you previously had your return prepared. Identity theft has been rising in recent years, so VITA and TCE sites are required to verify photo identification, and to use numbers from original Social Security/ITIN documents, every year for every return preprared.

What if I don't have a Social Security Number?

You must apply for an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) if you are not eligible for a Social Security Number, but you are required to file a federal income tax return. If you have an ITIN, make sure you bring the original ITIN paperwork, showing your ITIN number, with you to the site. If you do not have an ITIN, we can help you apply for one when we prepare your return. However, we will not be able to e-file your tax return; you will need to send it in along with your ITIN application.

How long will it take to get my refund?

If you are having your refund direct-deposited, it should appear in your bank account 7-14 days after your return is e-filed and accepted. If you are receiving your refund by check, it will be mailed by the IRS 14-21 days after your return is e-filed and accepted. Allow a few more days for the mail system to get the check to you.

How can I track my refund?

To check on the status of your federal refund, you can either track your refund online by going to Where's My Refund? or call 1-800-829-1954. With either method, you will need to provide your Social Security or ITIN Number, filing status, and the amount of your refund (all of this is on your copy of your tax return). Information on your refund will not be available for 7-10 business days after your return is filed.

To check on the status of your Colorado state refund, call (303) 238-7378.

Can I have my refund directly deposited?

Yes - in fact, we encourage direct deposit. Direct deposit is safer and faster than having a paper check mailed to you. All you need to provide is your bank account number, and the routing number (which tells the IRS which bank to send the money to). Both of these will appear at the bottom of one of your checks, if you have a checking account. If you are using a savings account, contact your bank to find out what the routing number is.

Can you prepare a Colorado state return?

Yes, we can prepare and e-file both your federal tax return, and your Colorado state return.

Can I get a tax return prepared for another state?

Yes usually we can. If you spent part of the year in another state, we can frequently file the return for that state for you. For most states this is fairly simple but some states such as California have returns that can be 10 or more pages long.

Can I get help with a return for a prior tax year?

Yes usually we can. But since we have to prioritize preparing returns for the current tax year, we may ask you to return at a quiet part of the tax preparation season, for instance at the beginning of March.

If I owe money on my tax return, do I have to pay it immediately?

If you owe money, we will still e-file your return on the day you come in, but you have until the filing deadline (typically April 15th) to make your payment. There are several ways you can make payment:

What if I owe money on my tax return, but I can't afford to pay it?

If you owe money on your tax return but can't afford to pay it, it is still important that you file your tax return by the filing deadline (typically April 15th). You can be fined by the IRS if you do not file your tax return on time. If you cannot pay the full amount due, you can request to set up an installment payment plan with the IRS. An installment plan may seem very convenient, but it is also an expensive option. There is a one-time setup fee, and you will also be charged a late payment penalty and interest on the amount due while you are making payments. It is always best to pay as much as you can by the filing deadline, even if you cannot pay the full amount. You may also want to consider less expensive alternatives, such as a bank loan.

There are several ways to set up an installment agreement with the IRS:

If you also need payment options for an amount due on your Colorado state return, call the Colorado Department of Revenue at 303-238-7378 after you have worked with the IRS on your federal payment plan.

Don't I get longer to pay if I file an extension?

NO!

Filing an extension does not give you more time to pay your taxes; it gives you more time to submit your completed tax return. If you owe money when you submit your completed tax return, the IRS will add penalties and interest for any amount that was not paid by the filing deadline (typically April 15th) - even if you have filed an extension. If you are going to owe money, you should submit a payment with your request for an extension to avoid being penalized for late payment and minimize any interest due.

What does VITA do with my personal information? Is it safe?

All volunteers are required to sign a confidentiality agreement, and conform to specific standards of conduct and privacy guidelines. Your personal information will not be shared or discussed outside of the VITA site. At the end of the tax year, we remove all electronic returns from our computers as well, so you information is not retained there.

I received a letter from the IRS after filing my taxes; what happened?

When your taxes are e-filed, the IRS computer systems do a quick verification to make sure the basic information matches their records (for example, birth dates and Social Security Numbers). After the return has been accepted, it will be reviewed further by the IRS. If the IRS feels that something is missing or incorrect, they will adjust the return and send you a letter explaining what they did, and why. If the adjustments they made result in your owing additional taxes, the letter will indicate the amount due. If the adjustments result in your owing less money, they will send you a check for the amount they owe you. In most cases, the letter will also include information on how to dispute the changes they made.

I received a letter from the IRS after filing my taxes; what do I do?

If you received a letter from the IRS because they corrected your return after it was filed, you should follow the instructions provided with the letter. If you disagree with the changes made by the IRS, you can dispute the changes by providing additional information to show why their changes are incorrect. Instructions for disputing the changes should be provided in the letter.

If you do not understand why the changes were made, you should contact the IRS for clarification. If the VITA site that prepared your return is open year-round, they may be able to assist with explaining the changes, and possibly with filing an amended return if required. For more complicated changes - or if the site that prepared your taxes is closed for the season - you should contact the IRS for assistance. The letter you received should contain information on who to contact.

VITA sites are not authorized to assist with tax disputes or audits. If you need professional assistance, there are several Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) in Colorado that will represent low-income taxpayers in audits, appeals, and collection issues. More information on LITCs and whether you qualify can be found on the IRS website.

The IRS also has a Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). If you have tried to resolve your tax problem through normal IRS channels and have not gotten to resolution, TAS pay be able to help. More information on TAS can be found on the IRS website.