Free Tax Preparation Services | Entertainment Community Fund

Free Tax Preparation Services

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer tax help for taxpayers who qualify. Services are completely free and include completing and e-filing your return and direct deposit of your refund.


***VITA sites with in-person service are by appointment only***

At these sites, you will sit down with a VITA or TCE preparer. Depending on the site, you may walk in and/or call for an appointment. To be eligible to file your taxes in person for free as a single filer, you must generally have income of $60,000 or less.

Find a provider in your city.

New York City

NYC VITA sites offer in-person, drop-off and online tax prep services. To be eligible, you must have income of $56,000 or less (single filers) or $80,000 or less (families) in 2022.

Learn more and view sites in New York City

In-Person Tax Prep

Sit down with a knowledgeable IRS certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparer who will help you to complete an accurate tax return (minimum 30 minutes).

Drop-Off Service

Drop off your tax documents and pick up the completed return later.

Virtual Tax Prep

Upload your tax documents to a secure digital system and then have a 60-90-minute virtual call with a VITA/TCE volunteer preparer who will answer your tax questions and help you file your return.

Assisted Self-Preparation

File your own taxes online using free tax filing software but contact a VITA/TCE volunteer preparer for help when needed. Additional income/age limits apply.  


Drop-off Services

The City of Chicago works with its nonprofit partner, Ladder Up, to offer free tax help. Ladder Up is operating free, in-person, walk-in services only for individuals and families meeting certain income eligibility requirements.

Learn More

Los Angeles

In-Person & Drop-Off Services

IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to individuals and families meeting certain income eligibility requirements. Depending on the site, in-person and/or drop-off service may be available, and an appointment may be required.

Learn more and view sites in Los Angeles

AEA and SAG-AFTRA Union Members (NYC)

The VITA site located at the NYC Equity building will be open February 6, 2023 on an appointment basis. Appointments will be made available every two weeks beginning at 9 am ET on Monday, February 6, using an online appointment calendar. This site serves paid-up members of SAG-AFTRA and AEA only.

Learn More

AEA and SAG-AFTRA Union Members (LA)

The VITA site located at the Entertainment Community Fund offices in Los Angeles is not offering any appointments or services for 2023. There is no virtual or in-person tax preparation service at or in connection with this site this year. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to see you next year.


Federal Return

The IRS Free File program offers access to brand-name tax preparation software free of charge for those who earned $73,000 or less in 2022. Returns may be completed online at or using the IRS2Go app. Some Free File packages also offer free state tax return preparation.

Learn More

State Returns

You may visit the following sites to self-prepare and file your state return:

  • New York – Prepare and file your NY state return for free (subject to an income cap) here.
  • Illinois – Prepare and file your IL state return for free here.
  • California – Prepare and file your CA state return for free here.

Preparing to File

To support the entertainment community in gathering and organizing their tax information, SAG-AFTRA has posted free VITA worksheets on their website that anyone may use.

Learn More

Tax Preparation FAQs

When do I file?

If your due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the due date is delayed until the next business day. Your return is considered filed on time if the envelope is properly addressed, postmarked and deposited in the mail by the due date.

  • Calendar Year Filers (most common) file on or before April 15
  • Fiscal Year Filers File on day 15 of the 4th month after your fiscal year ends

What if I can’t file by the due date?

If you can’t file by the due date of your return, request an extension of time to file. You must file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, by the due date of your return. You will receive an automatic 6-month extension to file your return. Note that an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. You may be subject to a late payment penalty on any tax not paid by the original due date of your return.

Access Form 4868 here

What if I can’t afford to pay my taxes?

If you believe you may have trouble paying your tax bill, you are encouraged to contact the IRS. View the IRS guide to “What Ifs for Struggling Taxpayers” here.

For help and to understand your rights, contact the IRS Tax Advocate Office here.

Is my Unemployment / EDD income taxable?

Yes. Unemployment/EDD payments must be reported on your federal tax return. These payments may be taxable in certain states (including NY) and exempt from state taxes in others (including CA). You will receive a 1099G form in the mail to include in your tax filing. Federally taxable unemployment payments include:

  • Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits including Federal Extensions (FED-ED), Pandemic Additional Compensation (PAC), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Lost Wages Assistance (LWA)
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits
  • Disability Insurance (DI) benefits received as a substitute for UI benefits
  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits
  • Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits

I received a financial assistance grant from the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly The Actors Fund). Is this taxable?

No. Financial assistance grants from the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly The Actors Fund) are considered gifts and are not taxable. You will not receive a Form 1099.

What tax credits should I know about as a performing arts professional?

  • Earned Income Tax Credit – Check if you qualify for this credit here.
  • Qualifying Performing Artist (QPA) Credit – Learn more about the QPA credit here.

Are there any tips for filing online?

  • IRS Tips to help take the stress out of tax season—access here.
  • IRS Tips for taxpayers to make filing easier—access here.
  • IRS Unemployment Compensation Information Page—access here.
  • IRS information about avoiding tax scams—access here.
  • IRS Tips for gig economy entrepreneurs and workers—access here.