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Free Tax Preparation Services

Johnson County Earned Income Tax Credit Outreach Campaign
“You Earned It! Now Claim It!”

Frequently Asked Questions

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program suspended until further notice

Johnson County is pleased to partner with the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, Iowa City Public Library, Iowa Center for Economic Success, Iowa City Community School District, and United Way of Johnson County to bring FREE tax preparation services to working people in community sites throughout Johnson County.

Financial support is provided by ISED Ventures and Johnson County.

Sponsored By:
Johnson County Logo University of Iowa Tippie College of Business Logo Green State Credit Union logo Iowa Center fo Economic Success logo

Iowa City Public Library logo Iowa City Community School District Logo United Way Logo

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program trains University of Iowa students to provide FREE Income Tax Preparation Services to qualifying workers. Additionally, the University of Iowa student volunteers have completed a semester long tax preparation course. Click here for additional information about the Tippie College of Business VITA Program and tax preparation information.

Download these documents for more information about the site schedules and materials to bring to the sites:
Information Flyer in English
Aviador de Información - Español (Information Flyer in Spanish)
Intake Form in English
Intake Form in Spanish

Did you already have your taxes done, but wondering about the status of your refund?

Where’s My Refund? - one of IRS’ most popular online features — gives taxpayers access to information about the status of their individual federal income tax refunds. Taxpayers can access Where’s My Refund? in English or Spanish at Taxpayers without internet access can get the same information by calling IRS’ Refund Hotline at 1-800-829-1954.

Tax Preparation Sites

There are four locations throughout Johnson County that provide FREE Tax Preparation Services. Please see below for site locations and schedules. Spanish translators are available at the two University of Iowa VITA locations (listed below). For translation assistance for other languages (including sign language) at any of these four sites please contact 356-6090 Monday through Friday 8 – 4:30 at least one week in advance of the tax help session you would like to attend.

NOTE: The University of Iowa VITA program locations will be closed March 14 through March 22. Limited Wednesday evening appointments available only by contacting 319-335-0857.

University of Iowa Tippie College of Business VITA Locations

Iowa City Public Library

123 S. Linn Street
No appointment necessary.

Hay intérpretes al español disponibles los sabados ocon cita
Contact 356-6090 to arrange for other translation needs

SCHEDULE: Saturday afternoon 11:00 am - 5:00 pm; Sunday afternoon from 12:30 - 4:30 pm; weekdays 5:00 - 8:30 pm.

Saturday: 11:00 - 5:00 pm
January 25
February 1, 8, 15, 22. 20
March 7
April 11

Sunday: 12:30 - 4:30 pm
January 26
February 2, 9, 16, 23
March 1, 8

Monday: 5:00 - 8:30 pm
April 6

Tuesday: 5:00 to 8:30 pm

April 7

Tuesday: 5:00 to 8:30 pm
April 8

Northwest Junior High School

1507 8th Street
No appointment necessary.

Hay intérpretes al español disponibles los sabados ocon cita
Contact 356-6090 to arrange for other translation needs

SCHEDULE: Monday evenings from 5:30 to 9:00 pm.

Monday evenings:
January 27
February 10, 17, 24

Southeast Junior High

2501 Bradford Drive
Iowa City
No appointment necessary.

SCHEDULE: Sunday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 pm

Sunday Afternoons:
February 9, 16, 23
March 1

Garner Elementary

80 Birch Ct
North Liberty
No appointment necessary.

SCHEDULE: Monday evenings from 5:30 to 9:00 pm

Monday Evenings:
March 9

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for VITA tax preparation services?

This service is available for free to taxpayers earning less than $56,000 a year.

There may be complex issues for which you will need to be referred to a paid preparer. The VITA tax preparer cannot complete your return if:

  • You were self-employed (your income is reported to you on a form 1099) and have business expenses exceeding $5,000
  • You have farm income
  • You received a lump sum distribution of your entire amount from your pension plan
  • You were a resident alien part of the year and a non-resident alien the other part of the year
  • You are a US citizen or resident alien with foreign earned income
  • You do not have a photo ID

What do I need to bring to the Tax Preparation Site?

  • Proof of identification Your photo ID (if you are married and filing a return together, bring a photo ID for your spouse too).
  • Social Security cards or ITIN letters (or Social Security Number or ITIN verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration) for you, your spouse, and your dependents (generally this means your children)
  • Copies of all federal and state tax returns that you filed during 2019. If you filed tax returns last year, we can't complete your Iowa state return, and may not be able to complete your federal return, without this information.
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse, and anyone you supported during the year.
  • 2019 wage and earnings statements. This includes all W-2, W-2G, and 1099-R forms from all employers, in all states.
  • 2019 Interest and Dividend Statements. This includes all 1099 forms from any banks, pensions, casinos or other companies that paid you interest or dividends.
  • Other relevant information about your income and expenses.
    • If you have child care expenses bring the total amount paid for child care and the child care provider's Social Security Number or provider's business Employer ID number.
    • If you paid tuition, bring your tuition statement (1098-T) and information about education expenses that you paid.
    • If you are a homeowner bring documentation of real estate taxes and mortgage interest.
  • Bank routing number and account number if you want your refund deposited in your bank account.
  • A completed intake form, if possible. This will make preparing your return faster and also make sure that you have the information you need with you. We have intake forms at the VITA sites for you to use.
  • To file taxes electronically on a married filing joint tax return, both spouses must be present.

Do I need an appointment?

You do not need an appointment for tax preparation services at Garner Elementary, Northwest Jr. High, Southeast Junior High or the Iowa City Public Library.

How much time will it take?

It will take about an hour to complete your taxes, but it could take longer depending on your individual situation. You may also need to wait for an open tax preparation station. All of the sites will file tax returns electronically (using a computer).

Are translation services available?

Spanish translation is available at the Iowa City Public Library on Saturdays, and Mondays at Northwest Junior High. Please call 356-6090 at least one week in advance of a scheduled tax preparation clinic to arrange for other translation at any of the above listed sites.

Who can I call if I have any questions about the VITA tax preparation sites?

You can contact An Leonard, Johnson County Social Services at (319) 356-6090.

What is the Earned Income Credit?

The Earned Income Credit is a special tax benefit for working people who earn low or moderate incomes. It has several important purposes, including reducing tax burden and supplementing wages.

Workers who qualify for the EIC and file a federal tax return can get back some or all of the federal income tax that was taken out of their pay during the year. They may also get extra cash back from the IRS. Even workers whose earnings are too small to owe income tax can get the EIC.

How much could I get back?

Single or married people who worked full-time or part-time at some point in 2018 can qualify for the EIC, depending on their income.

See this link to the IRS the web-site.

For more information on whether a child qualifies you for EITC, see Qualifying Child Rules or Publication 596, Rules If You Have a Qualifying Child.

2019 Tax Year

Earned Income and adjusted gross income (AGI) must each be less than:
• $49,194 ($54,884 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children
• $45,802 ($51,492 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children
• $40,320 ($46,010 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child
• $15,270 ($20,950 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children

Tax Year 2019 maximum credit:
• $6,557 with three or more qualifying children
• $5,828 with two qualifying children
• $3,526 with one qualifying child
• $529 with no qualifying children

For more information on whether a child qualifies you for the EITC, see Qualifying Child Rules or Publication 596, Rules if You Have a Qualifying Child.

The Protecting Americans against Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 Made permanent the relief for married taxpayers and the expanded credit for taxpayers with three or more qualifying children.

The IRS can't issue refunds before February 15 for tax returns with claims for the EITC and the Additional Child Tax Credit. This applies to the entire refund and not just the credit amounts.

Investment income must be $3,600 or less for the year.

Who is a “qualifying child” for the purposes of the Earned Income Credit?

The Earned Income Tax Credit depends on the number of 'qualifying children' that you have.

For the purposes of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the following individuals may be qualifying children:

  • Sons, daughters, stepchildren, grandchildren and adopted children
  • Brothers, sisters, stepbrothers, or stepsisters, and their descendants
  • Foster children who are placed with the worker by an authorized government or private placement agency

“Qualifying children” must live with the worker for more than half of the year in the U.S. They must be under age 19 (or under age 24 if they are full-time students). Relatives (as defined above) of any age who have total and permanent disabilities also may be a qualifying children. Valid Social Security numbers are required for qualifying children born before December 31, 2018.

Can immigrant workers claim the Earned Income Credit?

Many immigrants who are legally authorized to work can qualify for the EIC, as long as they meet the other eligibility requirements.

Does the Earned Income Credit affect eligibility for other public benefits?

The Earned Income Credit does not count as income in determining eligibility for benefits like cash assistance (FIP), Medicaid, food stamps (SNAP), SSI or public housing. The FIP program exempts EIC payments in the month received as well as in the following month. Funds remaining after the end of the second month are countable resources.

Can the Earned Income Credit help Workers with Disabilities?

To be eligible for the Earned Income Credit, individuals must have earned income. Benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance, SSI, military disability pensions, and payments from individually-purchased disability insurance policies are not counted as earned income. Individuals who receive these types of benefits may qualify for the Earned Income Credit if they, or their spouse, also have earned income.