If you are part of the 50% of the U.S. -- meaning you have a annual household income of $50,000 or less -- the Internal Revenue Service has a gift for you.
Free help on your federal and state tax returns.
It’s available as of this week under the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program that pairs trained volunteers with folks trying to make their way through the labyrinth of IRS and state income tax rules and forms. Almost anyone with a household income of $50,000 a year or less (roughly half the country, given that the median household income last year was $49,726, according to Nielsen Co.) is eligible.
Just about the only exceptions are taxpayers with such complex financial situations that they require more expertise than the program's volunteers can handle.
The free help is being offered in more than 1,500 locations across California, but in some places it’s just for a day here and there. To find a site and its schedule, call 800-906-9887, or go to www.ftb.ca.gov/individuals/via/search/index.aspx.