It's tax season! Book Your Appointment

Tax Assistance Program (TAP)

Ladder Up Tax Season is CLOSED for 2021!

Visit us in January 2022 to book your FREE tax appointment! 

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 593,000 returns and secured more than $1.2 billion in tax refunds to clients.

Tax Assistance Program Services

Free services available through the Tax Assistance Program include:

  • Preparation of Federal and Illinois income tax returns for full-year Illinois residents*
  • E-file services for tax returns (if eligible)
  • 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) – This service is provided seasonally.
  • Preparation and amendments for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, & 2020 tax years.

*For clients who are in-scope for our services, we can prepare a federal tax return and a 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 – in this situation, the state return can be prepared at all TAP locations (Ladder Up does NOT prepare state tax returns for residents of other states, or for partial-year Illinois residents)

Income Limits:

Ladder Up’s Tax Assistance Program (TAP) sites serve individuals earning up to $32,000 per year and families earning up to $57,000 per year.

Eligibility Requirements:

*If you do not meet our eligibility requirements for in-person services, you can prepare and file your own 2020 taxes for free online using IRS Free File starting January 30, 2021, until October 15, 2021: goladderup.org/freefile

  • TAP can electronically file years 2018-2020 tax returns of any client who is eligible.
  • TAP can paper-file 2016 & 2017 tax returns.
  • Taxpayers filing a joint tax return (Married) must BOTH be present.
  • 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
    • The spouse has an original copy of a signed and notarized Power of Attorney

Out-of-Scope: 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 has Code A (Box 6) showing that the client was insolvent at the time the debt was canceled
  • Clients who are in bankruptcy, even if Box 6 on the Form 1099-A/1099-C is not marked with Code A
  • Clients who have a Kiddie Tax scenario (When a student receives more scholarship money than is billed from the institution)
  • Clients who lived or earned income outside of the state of Illinois

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

  • Had business expenses of more than $35,000
  • 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.

If you are out-of-scope of Tax Assistance Program services, click here for IRS tips and resources on how to search for a tax preparer.

A directory of federal tax return preparers is available here

What to Bring:

Please note: All of Ladder Up’s sites are currently closed and will re-open next year in January 2022. (Appointment link coming soon)

Personal Identification

  • Original Social Security card (or ITIN card/letter) for yourself and ALL individuals that appear on your tax return
  • If Filing Jointly, BOTH spouses must be present 
  • Photo identification for yourself and your spouse (if you are filing a joint return)

Ladder Up’s policy is that the taxpayer(s) themselves should be present during the tax preparation process and when the return is reviewed and signed (especially if the client would like to e-file). If the taxpayer is not present, a third-party individual can only file on behalf of the absent taxpayer only if the third-party individual presents an original, signed, and notarized Power of Attorney that demonstrates that the individual has the power to act on behalf of the taxpayer on financial matters relating to filing and signing a tax return.

Bank Account Information (if available)

  • Account/Routing number for your checking and/or savings account

Income & Expense Documents:

All income statements received for 2016-2020

Examples:

  • Form W-2 (Ladder Up will not accept payment stubs in place of the W-2)
  • Social Security benefits statement SSA-1099
  • Form 1099-MISC/NEC
  • Form 1099-G (Unemployment)
  • Form 1099-R
  • Form 1099-INT/DIV

NOTE: If you are still waiting on missing income documents, please do not come to a tax site until you have received ALL of your documents!

Expense information for 2016-2020:

Some of the things that you paid for during the tax year are deductible. If you had any of the following, make sure to bring the appropriate tax document with you to the tax site. This includes:

  • Mortgage interest statement (Form 1098)
  • Second (final) bill for property taxes paid
  • College Tuition and expenses for yourself or a dependent (Form 1098-T), student account transcripts, and other records related to amounts paid for college
  • Student loan interest paid (Form 1098-E)
  • 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 the previous tax year (if available)

Amendment information for 2016-2020

  • Tax return filed to IRS (for the year that needs amending) or
  • All documents originally filed or
  • Tax return transcript from IRS

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”
  3. Click on the link to Partners.uber.com
  4. Go to the “Tax Information” tab
  5. You will want to download the 2020 Tax Summary as well as any Form 1099-K or Form 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:

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 uber.com/drive/chicago/contact/ 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 Market Place Health Insurance (Form 1095-A)

What to Expect:

Ladder Up’s FREE Tax Services are only available by appointment. Some sites might be able to take walk-ins but it is never guaranteed.

Tax Services: 

  1. Make an appointment to bring your tax documents to our Tax Assistance site.  To make an appointment click here or call (312) 588-6900.
  2. At your appointment, work with a volunteer to complete any questions you are unsure of during the intake process.
  3. A volunteer will prepare your taxes or amendments.

Please check our eligibility and what-to-bring page before arriving to make sure you have all your documents and are eligible for free tax services.

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 the 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
  • National Identification Card (must be current and contain a name, photograph, address, date of birth, and expiration date)
  • Civil Birth Certificate (required for applicants under 18 if the 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: https://www.irs.gov/refunds

You will need the following information:

  • Social Security number or ITIN
  • Filing status
  • Refund amount (Line 35a 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 312-409-1555.

To check the status of your Illinois state refund, please visit: https://mytax.illinois.gov/

Resources

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
www.irs.gov
(800) 829-1040
(800) 829-4059 (TDD)

Social Security Administration
www.ssa.gov/chicago
(800) 772-1213

Illinois Department of Revenue
tax.illinois.gov
(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

Testimonials

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