Tax Assistance

Through its Tax Assistance Program (TAP), Ladder Up offers free electronic preparation and e-filing of individual income tax returns for Chicago-area taxpayers. By leveraging the donated time of 1,000+ volunteers, many recruited from the area’s top companies and universities, Ladder Up provides free tax assistance from February – April.

Between June 12 – October 12, 2019, we will host additional sessions at Harold Washington Library (400 S. State Street, 7th Floor). During these sessions, we will provide the following services for free:

  • Tax return preparation for the current tax year and prior years
  • Federal and State tax return amendments
  • Tax Clinic intake screenings
  • Customized credit reports
  • Access to prepaid debit cards and savings options
  • Referrals to Project Money, our financial coaching program

Please view our flyer for dates and times and check our eligibility section to make sure you qualify for our services.

Tax Assistance Program Services

By using the free services offered through the Tax Assistance Program (TAP), Ladder Up clients can keep more of their hard-earned money.

Since 1994, Ladder Up has prepared over 168,000 returns and secured more than $258 million in tax refunds to clients.

Free services available through the Tax Assistance Program (February – April 15) include:

  • Preparation of Federal and Illinois income tax returns for full-year Illinois residents*
  • E-file services for tax returns
  • ITIN application/renewal assistance (Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers are needed for taxpayers that do not have and are not eligible to receive Social Security Numbers)
  • Preparation of prior-year tax returns (for up to 2 previous years plus the current tax year during the regular tax season)
  • Preparation of amended returns (some restrictions apply, and all tax situations for the client must be in-scope for VITA and Ladder Up)

*For clients who are in-scope for our services, we can prepare the federal tax return, and we can also prepare the state tax return where one of the following requirements is met:

  • Clients were full-year Illinois residents with income only in Illinois for the tax year can be prepared at all TAP locations (we can NOT prepare state tax returns for residents of other states, or for partial-year Illinois residents)
  • Full-year Illinois residents who had income from Indiana during the tax year can also be prepared at select locations (Loop, Pullman, Southland)
  • Full-year Illinois residents who had income from Wisconsin during the tax year can also be prepared at the select locations (Loop, Lake County)

Please note: All sites operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Many sites will stop taking new clients well before the official closing time, so please arrive early.

Income Limits

  • Tax Assistance Program (TAP) sites serve individuals earning up to $30,000 per year and families earning up to $55,000 per year.

E-file Requirements

  • TAP can e-file the 2018 or 2017  tax return of any client that is eligible to e-file and that wants to submit their tax return electronically instead of through the mail.
  • Married taxpayers filing a joint tax return must BOTH be present at the site to validate proof of identity, verify their TIN, and sign their tax return. Both spouses do not have to be at the site at the same time or on the same day to do this. However, the tax return cannot be e-filed, nor a copy provided to the taxpayer(s) until:
    • Both signatures are secured on the tax return or on Form 8879, IRS e-file Signature Authorization, or
    • A valid Power of Attorney or Form 2848 Power of Attorney is presented authorizing the one spouse who is present to sign for the absent spouse only for cases in which the missing spouse is unable to sign due to disease or injury or is continually absent from the U.S.

Ineligible Income/Expenses

TAP can NOT prepare or amend returns for clients in the following situations:

  • Clients with income from rental property
  • Clients who receive Form 1099-A (Acquisition or Abandonment of Secured Property)
  • Clients who receive Form 1099-C (Cancellation of Debt) for discharged debt other than credit card (Box 4), and/or that shows interest (Box 3), and/or that have Code A (Box 6)
  • Clients who are in bankruptcy, even if Box 6 on the 1099-A/1099-C is not marked with Code A
  • Clients who lived or earned income outside of Illinois

If you own your own business, TAP cannot prepare your return if you:

  • Had business expenses of more than $25,000
  • Did not use the cash method of accounting
  • Had an inventory at any time during the tax year
  • Had a net loss from the business
  • Had employees during the year
  • Were required to file Form 4562, Depreciation and Amortization, for your business
  • Deduct expenses for business use of your home

A more complete list of additional forms and tax situations that are also out of scope for VITA and Ladder Up is available here

What to Bring

Please note: All sites operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Many sites will stop taking new clients well before the official closing time, so please arrive early.


Personal Identification

  • Original Social Security card (or ITIN card/letter) for yourself and ALL individuals that appear on your tax return
  • Photo identification for yourself and your spouse (if you are filing a joint return)
  • Birthdates for all individuals that appear on your tax return

Bank Account Information (if you use a bank account)

  • Account number for your checking and/or savings account
  • Routing number for your bank or credit union
    Note: If you have a checkbook or a voided check, we will have enough information to allow for direct deposit of your tax refund (if you are eligible for a refund)

Income & Expense Documents


All income statements received for 2018


  • Form W-2
  • Social Security benefits statement
  • Form 1099-MISC
  • Form 1099-G
  • Form 1099-R
  • Form 1099-INT or DIV showing dividends paid or interest earned

NOTE: If you are still waiting on missing income documents, please do not come to a TAP site until you have received ALL of your documents. You may need to contact your employer if you have not received your W-2 form by the end of January.


Expense information for 2018

Fill out this worksheet ahead of time to make sure you are prepared to file your taxes.


  • Mortgage interest statement (Form 1098)
  • Second (or final) bill for property taxes paid in 2018
  • Form 1098-T for college tuition expenses , student account transcripts, and other records related to amounts paid for college
  • Job-related expenses (if you are a sole proprietor or self-employed)
  • Child care expenses (Social Security Number or Tax Identification Number of the caretaker is required)
  • Your tax return from last year (if available)


If you drive for Uber or Lyft:

Uber and Lyft keep records for some, but not all, of the business expenses you may have had.

Both Uber and Lyft have tax summaries available through online driver profiles.

To find it:

  1. Log into your Uber app
  2. Go to Help – “How to Update Account” C
  3. Click on the link to
  4. Go to the “Tax Information” tab
  5. You will want to download the 2018 Tax Summary as well as any 1099-K or 1099-MISC listed
  6. Keep copies of all of these pages for your tax records

The Tax Summary does not include ALL expenses. Additional expenses may include:

  • Additional miles: Miles driven between fares
  • Additional tolls: Tolls paid without a passenger in the car while en route to pick up a fare
  • Cell phone: The portion of the use of a phone for business is deductible. This includes the cost of the phone itself as well as the related service contract. The portion of use that is designated as personal is not deductible.
  • Refreshments/Amenities for passengers: Refreshments and other supplies such as phone chargers/adapters for passengers are deductible.
  • Read more here.

If you need in-person help with obtaining these documents, you can visit one of the locations below.

Uber Greenlight Hubs
Hours vary by location; go to for complete information

  • 4609 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
  • 1401 W. North Ave., Chicago
  • 839 W. 115th St., Chicago
  • 7250 S. Cicero Ave., Bedford Park

Lyft Hub
3976 N. Avondale Ave., 2nd fl., Chicago
Mon & Wed, 10 am-8 pm
Tue, Thur, Fri, 10 am-4 pm

Health Insurance Information


  • Proof of health insurance coverage (i.e. Form 1095-A, Form 1095-B, Form 1095-C, Medicare card) OR
  • Certificate of Exemption

What to Expect

All sites operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

Here is an overview of the tax preparation process at a TAP site:

  1. Once you arrive at the tax site, we will ensure that you have original Social Security/ITIN card(s) for everyone on your return, photo ID, and that you meet basic eligibility requirements.
  2. You will fill out intake paperwork.
  3. An interviewer will review your paperwork and ask you more specific questions regarding your tax documents and determine if you are eligible for service. If you are eligible, you will receive a numbered index card.
  4. When your index card number is called, you will sit with a tax preparer who will prepare your return.
  5. After the return has been prepared, you will receive a blue numbered index card – when your blue number is called, you will sit with a quality reviewer who will review your return for accuracy as a second set of eyes.
  6. The quality reviewer will finalize your return, go over the results with you, provide you with a printed copy of your return for your records, and discuss next steps.

ITIN Information

(Servicios de ITIN)

Ladder Up can help taxpayers apply for and renew an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) by providing free assistance with completion of Form W-7 (Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number).

If you would like to make an appointment to complete your ITIN application, please use our contact form below and select “ITIN Assistance” from the dropdown menu.

For a detailed flyer about Ladder Up’s ITIN services, please click here.

For your appointment, please bring a passport OR any two of the following documents:

  • United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Photo Identification
  • Visa issued by United States Department of State
  • United States Driver’s License
  • United States Military Identification Card
  • Foreign Driver’s License
  • Foreign Military Identification Card
  • National Identification Card (must be current and contain name, photograph, address, date of birth, and expiration date)
  • United States State Identification Card
  • Foreign Voters Registration Card
  • Civil Birth Certificate (required for applicants under 18 if passport is not provided)
  • Medical Records (valid only for dependents under age 6)
  • School Records (valid only for dependents under age 14 (under age 18 if a student))

Where’s My Refund?

To check on the status of your federal refund, please visit:

You will need the following information:

  • Social Security number or ITIN
  • Filing status
  • Refund amount (Line 76a of your Form 1040)

If your search does not return a result, please reach out to TAP to check on the status of your return by calling 312-409-4719.

To check the status of your Illinois state refund, please visit:


Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
(800) 829-1040
(800) 829-4059 (TDD)

Social Security Administration
(800) 772-1213

Illinois Department of Revenue
(800) 732-8866
(800) 544-5304 (TDD)

Local Illinois Department of Revenue Offices:

James R. Thompson Center – Concourse Level
100 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601-3274
(800) 732-8866

Maine North Regional Building
9511 Harrison Ave.
Des Plaines, IL 60016-1563
(847) 294-4200


Juan is a 58-year-old married father of three who works in a warehouse. “I used to prepare my own taxes, but when I got married and bought a house I didn’t know how to do it, so I had to pay someone $100 to file my taxes.” For Juan, his tax refund, which was over $3,000, represents the largest paycheck he will receive all year and, like many other Ladder Up clients, this year he used his refund to pay off bills. “I’m glad they do so many checks to make sure that everything is ok.”

When Latoya, a 38 year-old home aid worker and mother of three found out that the paid preparer she was using was fraudulent, she turned to Ladder Up to have her tax return prepared honestly and accurately. “I like [Ladder Up’s] sites because they are professional, and I know they can help with questions, which is why I’ve been coming for a couple of years now. This year, she will use her refund of over $2,800 to pay off some bills.

“I enjoy working with the clients and the other volunteers. It is very satisfying to see the immediate impact our work has on the lives of our clients. Being able to tell a client the amount of their refund, or helping them to resolve tax situations is a great feeling. We have many repeat clients that we develop relationships with and I have been part of a wonderful volunteer team for quite a few years. I also enjoy using my accounting skills, and I’m detail oriented so I enjoy being a checker.”
– Martha, Ladder Up volunteer