Take Credit Tax Assistance

File Your Taxes for Free

Tax Preparation Results for Last Year
Returns Prepared: 1,029
Refunds: $1.2 Million


Free Tax Preparation Assistance February 1st - April 14th

What is VITA? 

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is an IRS-supported program designed to help moderate- to low-income taxpayers complete their annual tax returns at no cost. This is the second year that United Way of Deschutes County will be heading up the VITA program. The program is in its seventh year and provides free tax preparation--with an Earned Income Tax Credit- (EITC or EIC) and Child Tax Credit- (CTC) focus for mid- to low- income residents throughout the tri-county area. The program has been very successful and last year alone provided free tax services to more than 1,000 individuals and families and returned more than $1.2 Million in tax refund revenue to our local communities.

What exactly are EITC and Child Tax Credits?
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the single largest tool for poverty reduction being used in the United States today. Congress originally created the tax credit in 1975, in part to offset the burden of Social Security taxes and to provide an incentive to work. The EITC is for people who work hard but don’t earn high incomes. (Click here for earnings table.) This is a federal tax credit available for qualified low income families and individuals designed to get money back into the hands of those who need it most. They do not have to owe taxes in order to claim the credit. When the EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who claim and qualify for the credit.

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is a federal tax credit worth up to $1,000 for each qualifying child. To be eligible for the CTC credit a single or married worker must have a qualifying child under age 17 who lived with the taxpayer for more than half the year and who did not provide more than half his/her own support. Taxpayers and/or qualifying children can have either a Social Security number (SSN) or an Individual *Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

The CTC is not refundable; however, the additional CTC may entitle the taxpayer to a refund. That means some families can get the credit even if they owe no income tax. Eligible families can also receive the CTC refund as part of their tax refund.

*ITINs are issued by the IRS to individuals who are unable to obtain a Social Security number. Immigrant workers with either type of number may be able to claim the CTC refund. Need information on how to obtain an ITIN? Call the Latino Community Association at: (541) 382-4366 and ask about this Tax ID option.

Can a working family get both the Child Tax Credit refund and the Earned Income Credit?

Yes!! Most low-wage working families that qualify for the CTC will also be eligible for the EIC. For many families that qualify for both credits, the EIC will be larger, but the CTC still will provide a significant income boost.

How does the program work?
Each year, beginning in December and continuing through mid-January, community volunteers that include COCC accounting and business students, receive IRS-approved training and testing that certifies them to prepare basic tax returns.  From February 1 through April 14, our volunteers will be available at various locations (CLICK HERE FOR LOCATION INFORMATION including free tax sites operated by AARP.) throughout Central Oregon to help you and your family to electronically prepare your taxes and to get the most allowed by law from that return. The most important way that this happens is through the Earned Income Tax and Child Tax Credits.  Also by filing electronically you will be receiving your return in less than three weeks.

There are also many other credits and deductions available that can reduce your taxes and increase your refund.

What are the benefits besides having my returns prepared for free?

In addition to offering free tax refund assistance and helping you to claim the EITC (and other tax credits), the Take Credit Program helps YOU avoid costly refund anticipation loans or RALs. The cost of a RAL can substantially reduce your family's potential EITC refund. It is not uncommon for more than half of a refund to be lost to finance charges, tax preparation, system administration, electronic filing and other fees. Also, if the IRS does not issue a refund for any reason, a RAL has the potential to leave a family in financial crisis.

What’s more, you can expect to have your refund check back in fewer than three weeks if you file electronically AND you can get information about your federal income tax refund within 72 hours of receiving an acknowledgement of your e-filed return or three to four weeks after mailing a paper return. E-file makes doing your taxes faster and easier. 

Want your return to arrive safe and even faster? Direct Deposit eliminates the risk of lost or stolen checks, reduces fraud, helps protect against identity theft and gives people more control over their money. Plus, direct deposit provides people with immediate access to their money from virtually everywhere.


How do I know if I qualify?
How do I know if I qualify to have my taxes prepared?
Generally speaking, if you made less than $50,000 in 2013 you qualify to have your personal taxes prepared for free. If you owned your own business, did not show a loss or have employees and do not carry inventory or need to depreciate, we can also help you with your return.

How do I know if I qualify for the EITC and what is it worth?
Single or married people who worked full- or part-time at some point in 2013 can qualify for the EIC, depending on their income.

  • Workers who were raising one child in their home and had income of less than $37,870 (or $43,210 for married workers) in 2013 can get an EIC of up to $3,250.
  • Workers who were raising two children in their home and had income of less than $43,038 (or $48,378 for married workers) in 2013 can get an EIC of up to $5,372.
  • Workers who were raising three or more children in their home and had income of less than $46,227 (or $51,567) for married workers) in 2013 can get an EIC of up to $6,044.
  • Workers who were NOT raising children in their home, but were between ages 25 and 64 on December 31, 2013, and had income below $14,340 (or $19,680 for married workers) can get an EIC up to $487.

 Workers with investment income exceeding $3,300 in 2013 may not claim the EIC.

How do I know if I qualify for the Child Tax Credit and what is it worth?
The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is a federal tax credit worth up to $1,000 for each qualifying child. To be eligible for the CTC credit a single or married worker must have a qualifying child under age 17; have provided more than half the support for that child and had that child living with you for more than half the year. Either a Social Security number (SSN) or an Individual *Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) qualifies for this credit.


If you work you can get these credits and not lose other public benefits.  That means that EITC and CTC refunds won’t count as income when you apply for or renew benefits like food stamps, SSI, Medicaid, cash assistance or public housing.

What do I need to bring to my tax appointment?
What to bring:

Identification documents:

  • Photo Identification
  • Birth dates for taxpayer, spouse and all dependents
  • Social Security cards for the taxpayer, spouse and ALL dependents. (We need a way to identify you. If you don’t have a Social Security card we can accept a Veteran ID, Medicare card or other government issued ID.

Income documents:

  • A copy of last year’s federal and state tax return
  • Wage and earnings statements: W-2, W-2G, 1098, 1099-R from ALL employers
  • Unemployment compensation statement if applicable (Form 1099-G)
  • Interest statements from banks and dividend statements from stock
  • Misc. income statements
  • Information for other income

Expense and/or deduction documents:

  • Day care expenses paid for day care in 2011 INCLUDING the day care provider’s name, address and federal ID number.
  • Mortgage and real estate tax statements (only if itemizing).
  • Unreimbursed medical and dental payments (only if itemizing).
  • Student loan interest payments (this must be documented)
  • Records of tuition or student loan payments (Form 1098-E
  • Record of college books and supplies purchased for the year.

Bank documents:

  • A voided check or deposit slip from any bank accounts you want to use for direct deposit of your refund.

Please note if filing electronically and married filing a joint return, both spouses must be present.

Not sure if you should bring something? Bring it along so you won’t have to come back at another time!

Where do I go?
Click on the location name below to download a map to that location. In addition to tax preparation sites, we will also offer Facilitated Self Assistance Sites (FSA) where taxpayers are able to prepare their own taxes with IRS-approved software and with assistance, if needed, from VITA volunteers. FSA sites are walk-in only unless otherwise noted. Tax site clinics now taking appointments:

VITA Sites:

Bend Downtown Library

Wednesdays | 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sat & Sun. | 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
541.323.VITA (8482)

Redmond DHS
Mon/Wed | 5 p.m. -8 p.m.
541.323.VITA (8482)

Prineville COIC
Saturdays | 9 am – 4 p.m.

FSA Sites:
COCC – Boyle Room 160
Wednesdays | 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Walk in only)

East Branch Library
Mondays | 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Walk in only)

Madras COCC

Every other Thursday 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. (appointments only)
541.323.VITA (8482)

AARP Sites:

Bend Senior Center
Mon – Fri. | 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Redmond NeighborImpact

Mon – Fri. | 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

La Pine *PCG
*Pentecostal Church of God
Mon./Thurs. | 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Warm Springs *WSCAT
Thurs. / Fri. | 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
*Warm Springs Community Action Team/Family Resource Center


Refer a friend!
Be a friend; refer a friend to the VITA tax program today!

According to national estimates, 20 to 25 percent of eligible workers do not claim their EITC benefits. That equates to approximately $2.5 billion in forfeited tax return money. That means millions of dollars are not finding their way to the pockets of individuals who have earned that money. As a result they are going without the income boost they could be getting to help them keep their jobs and care for their families.

Remember: Even if you don’t owe income tax you may still be entitled to a refund. Be a friend and refer a friend today! Stop by United Way to pick up a Refer a Friend card or download one here.

Volunteers play a crucial role in empowering low-income families to achieve a more secure economic future. Volunteers from all backgrounds and abilities play a role in free tax preparation services, and don’t need to be an accountant to help.


  • Greet the people who come for free tax preparation
  • Prepare taxes
  • Share information about financial literacy and asset building opportunities
  • Serve as translators
  • Provide childcare for families having their taxes done

Our tax preparers will all be certified through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This can take place through a 40-hour in-person class, or online through the IRS Link & Learn site. Students at COCC may be able to earn credit through this program.

For more information, please contact Pat McGuinness: Pat@deschutesunitedway.org or 541.323-8482.

Is it really free?
Yes, it is really free to file your state and local taxes at one of the volunteer tax sites. Each site, however, does have a scope that it must stay within. It is not necessarily your income, but the complication of your return. If you believe your taxes are complicated, ask about it when you call to make an appointment. Our goal is to tell you up front if it's too complicated for our volunteer services.
Can I file both federal and state taxes here?

Yes, we file both federal and state forms electronically. Our volunteers are not versed in every state's tax laws, however, so if you have a specific question on an out-of-state return, you should call that state's Department of Revenue prior to your appointment with our volunteers.
What is a qualifying child?

A qualifying child is a son, daughter, grandchild, stepchild, adopted child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister (or their descendents) or foster child placed by a government or private agency.

The qualifying child:

  • must have lived with you for more than six months of the year.
  • should be under 19, or 24 if full-time student or any age if totally and permanently disabled.
  • must Be younger than the taxpayer claiming that child (there were some rare instances where the taxpayer claiming the child was actually younger than the child)
  • must not have filed a joint return other than for a claim of refund

If you are a qualifying child, you cannot claim the EIC yourself. If a child is claimed for both the EITC and Child Tax Credit, the same worker must claim both credits.

What is the average EITC return?
The average EITC refund in Central Oregon is $1,700. In total, the EITC brings over $20 million to the tri-county area. Our goal is to reach the 25% of the population who qualify for the EITC but do not file for it. Click here for free filing locations and times in Central Oregon.

What if I don't qualify for the EITC, should I still file taxes?

Yes. You might be due a refund because you had too much taken out of your paycheck last year. OR if you were qualified for the EITC within the last THREE years and didn't claim the credit, you can file an amended tax return for those years. Also, you might qualify for other federal and state credits or deductions.

Federal Tax Benefits


State of Oregon Benefits

Child Tax Credit


Oregon EITC

Child & Dependent Care Credit


Working Family Child Care Credit

Education Credits & Deductions


College Savings Plans Credit

First-Time Homebuyers Credit


Elderly or Disabled Credit

Retirement Savings Credits




What is the Taxpayer Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program? Is it like VITA?
The TCE Program offers free tax help for all, with priority assistance to people who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement issues unique to seniors. IRS-certified volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.

The Taxpayer Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program also provides free tax information and help in preparing federal and state income tax returns for elderly, moderate- to low- income and handicapped individuals. This program is supported by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Foundation. AARP's Tax-Aide volunteers and, like VITA volunteers, are trained in cooperation with the Internal Revenue to prepare basic income tax returns for free. All sites in Central Oregon offer free electronic filing.  TCE

Find an AARP Tax-Aide, site near you or call 1-888-227-7669 for more information on TCE

Who can get help at a VITA site?
Income tax assistance is available for low-to-moderate income individuals, individuals with disabilities, non-English speaking taxpayers, military personnel, and the elderly. The program also assists individuals who qualify for homestead credit or the earned income credit.

Who can get help at a TCE site?
Income tax assistance is available for low-to-moderate income individuals, the elderly and persons with disabilities. The program also assists individuals who qualify for homestead credit or the earned income credit.

Taxpayer civil rights
Under no circumstances will the Internal Revenue Service tolerate discriminatory treatment of taxpayers by individuals who volunteer for its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites. No taxpayer shall be excluded from participating in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, reprisal, disability or age in programs or activities supported by the Department of the Treasury - Internal Revenue Service.*
*Not all protected bases apply to all programs supported by the Department of the Treasury – Internal Revenue Service.

Taxpayers with a disability may require a reasonable accommodation in order to participate or receive the benefits of a program or activity supported by the Department of the Treasury – Internal Revenue Service. Site Coordinators or Managers at VITA and TCE sites are responsible for ensuring that all requests for reasonable accommodation are granted when the request is made by a qualified individual with a disability. Taxpayers have the right to file a written complaint with the Department of the Treasury – Internal Revenue Service when a request for a reasonable accommodation is not granted.

Taxpayers may also submit a written complaint if they believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, disability, reprisal or age. Taxpayers may file a written complaint with the Site Coordinator or Manager at a VITA or TCE site, or with the Department of the Treasury – Internal Revenue Service. All written complaints should be sent to:
Director, Civil Rights Division IRS, AWSS EDI Operations, Room 2413 1111 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20224

Do not mail tax returns or non-EEO correspondence as these documents cannot be processed by the Internal Revenue Service, AWSS – EDI Operations, Civil Rights Division. For all other inquiries concerning taxpayer civil rights, contact us at the address referenced above, or e-mail eeo.external.civil.rights@irs.gov


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What is VITA? 

(Download pdf)

How does the program work?

What is Taxpayer Counseling for the Elderly?

What is EITC?

What is CTC?

How do I qualify?
  for tax preparation
  for EITC
  for CTC

Where do I go? Locations

Refer a friend



Taxpayer Civil Rights 

Additional information and documents