The tax season is upon us once again and hopefully, you are already done with your return. However, if you have not yet filed your taxes, the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offer free advice and several services to seniors and retirees.

According to ABC News, the “AARP’s tax aid program is and has been for many years the largest single participant in the tax counseling for the elderly program.”

The IRS has also dedicated a special section of their website for Seniors and Retirees, featuring advice and resources on common tax issues for aging adults, such as on Tips for Seniors in Preparing their Taxes, Life Events That May Have Tax Consequences for Seniors and Retirees, e-file Filing Options, Tax Facts for Seniors with a Change in Marital Status, Frequently Asked Questions for Seniors, Products for Older Americans, Are Your Social Security Benefits Taxable? and general information for filing your federal tax return.

The volunteer-based AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program has helped approximately 50 million low- to middle-income taxpayers, especially those 60 and older, since it was founded in 1968. In California, AARP offers Free Bilingual Tax Preparation Service Tax-Aide, which assisted almost 192,000 Californians in 2012.

Similar to the AARP program, the IRS Free Tax Return Preparation for You by Volunteers, the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify.

In fact, a majority of the TCE sites are operated by the AARP Foundation’s Tax Aide Program and specialize in questions about pensions, retirement and issues specific to seniors, the TCE Program offers free tax help, with people who are at least 60 years old receiving priority assistance.

Also available to anyone who earns $51,000 or less and needs assistance preparing an individual tax return, the VITA Program features free basic income tax return preparation assistance, along with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities by IRS-certified volunteers. Generally located at convenient community centers, such as libraries, schools or shopping malls, VITA helps qualified taxpayers discover any applicable special tax credits, which may include Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit or Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.

These volunteer programs may also be able to help you file your returns electronically for free, which may result in a faster refund, or if you will not be able to complete your taxes by the regular April 15 deadline, you can ask for assistance to request an extension.

If you do plan on requesting assistance from one of these programs, the IRS website states that you need to bring the information listed below to your meeting:

“Proof of identification – Picture ID

Social Security Cards for you, your spouse and dependents or a Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter for you, your spouse and dependents

Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN

Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return

Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc from all employers

Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)

A copy of last year’s federal and state returns if available

Proof of bank account routing numbers and account numbers for Direct Deposit, such as a blank check

Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number (the provider’s Social Security Number or the provider’s business Employer Identification Number) if appropriate

To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.’’

Go to the AARP website or contact the IRS on their toll-free information line at 1-800-829-1040 to find out if there is a volunteer tax services program in your area. Even if you have already filed your returns this year, it would be good to know what resources are available in your area for next year. Just keep in mind that a majority of the VITA and TCE sites are open annually from late January or early February to April 15.

If the time has come that you or a family member is no longer able to maintain an independent lifestyle, contact ElderLink to discuss elder care services and options available throughout California.