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Bankrate's 2010 Tax Guide
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Filing assistance for special needs taxpayers

Sometimes, even when the tax question is a common one, getting the answer is not easy. This is particularly true for taxpayers with special needs, such as physical disabilities, hearing impairments or language issues.

The Internal Revenue Service offers help for special-needs taxpayers through local IRS offices or IRS-supported volunteer programs operated nationwide during tax-filing season. The agency also operates a special phone line for hearing-impaired taxpayers and produces some tax materials in Braille.

Special filing needs

If you are unable to complete your return because of a physical disability, call your nearest Taxpayer Assistance Center for assistance or guidance for further help. The IRS maintains a locator map to help you find the nearest office.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, or VITA program, also might be able to help. VITA has IRS-trained volunteers who provide free tax assistance at neighborhood locations, such as churches, schools, libraries and community centers. VITA is aimed at those who may find it difficult to pay for tax assistance. These may include people with low or fixed incomes, non-English speakers, the elderly and people with disabilities or special needs.

The Tax Counseling for the Elderly program is designed primarily for those age 60 or older, particularly those individuals confined to their homes or retirement communities. Again, IRS-trained volunteers from local nonprofit organizations provide free tax counseling and basic income tax return preparation to senior citizens. Volunteers may travel to an individual's home in cases where the taxpayer is unable to get to a local TCE site.

To find a local VITA or TCE clinic, call the IRS toll free at (800) 829-1040 or your nearest local IRS office. Also check with AARP, the national advocacy group for older Americans. AARP is the largest Tax Counseling for the Elderly participant.

If you cannot afford to pay for tax help, you may be eligible for assistance at IRS-supported tax clinics that operate nationwide and are designed to help eligible filers resolve tax disputes or matters that have gone to litigation.

Help for those with hearing, sight needs
Hearing-impaired taxpayers can get telephone help in English and Spanish from the IRS by contacting the agency via a special hookup. The toll-free number is (800) 829-4059 and is available 24 hours a day. Taxpayers without TTY/TDD equipment should check with local agencies or their state's relay service about getting access.

For taxpayers with vision problems, the IRS offers downloadable Braille versions of more than 100 tax publications and more than twice that number of forms on its Web site. While the IRS will not accept these downloaded forms for filing purposes, the materials do offer visually impaired filers access to IRS information for reference purposes. They are available in an executable (.exe) format that contains a text-only file as well as one in Braille format (.brf) for Braille embossing. The text-only files can be used with screen enlargers, screen readers, refreshable Braille displays and most other accessibility software.

Some Braille forms also are available at libraries that are part of the Library of Congress' National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. To locate your nearest library, write to the National Library Service at 1291 Taylor St., N.W., Washington, D.C., 20542.

You can call the library service at (202) 707-5100 if you are in the local Washington, D.C., calling area or toll free from elsewhere at (800) 424-8567. The library service also can be reached by:

  • Fax at (202) 707-0712.
  • TDD at (202) 707-0744.
  • E-mail at nls@loc.gov.

For information on tax provisions that might affect persons with disabilities, see IRS Publication 907, Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities.

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