VITA is a federally-sponsored, community-based program that serves lower-income Americans at tax time. All told, there are 5,100 VITA sites nationwide that recruit and train thousands of volunteers to provide free tax preparation services to millions of Americans with low and moderate incomes as well as the elderly and persons with disabilities or limited English proficiency. Eligibility for VITA services is limited to taxpayers with a combined annual household income of $54,000 or less.
In the 2018 tax season, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Services for West Michigan helped file 2,791 tax returns, thanks to 43 volunteers. This led to $3,459,739 of taxes going back to our working families. This is important not only for these individuals, but for our community as well. Recipients of VITA services tend to spend much of their tax refunds in their communities at local businesses, helping to support jobs and investments in the community and leading to further benefits for everyone.
How Local VITA Programs Work:
VITA sites operate year-round. Tax season is the busiest time for msot local VITA programs and requires significant preparation work both before and after.
Pre-Tax Season (October to January)
Successfully managing the demands of tax season requires advance preparation for both sites and volunteers. Before tax season commences, local program administrators must secure tax preparation sites, train volunteers and coordinate with local partners on the deployment of additonal services.
The volunteer training and certification process is rigourous. Recruitment begins in October and is followed by substaintial training in federal and state tax law, tax preparation software, interview skills and local forms and procedures. At a minimum, volunteer preparers must pass three IRS tests.
Tax Season (January to April)
During tax season, VITA sites focus on preparing tax returns. Many progams provide services for walk-ins on a first come, first serve basis, while others schedule appointments in advance. Be sure to contact Goodwill Industries to find out more. The tax preparation process helps clients organize tax documents, and complete lengthy intake sheets, explaining the completed tax return and answering taxpayer questions.
Want to learn more?
To learn how to volunteer for VITA go to: http://volunteer.unitedwaylakeshore.org/agency/detail/?agency_id=29365 to be connected to resources.
For more information on where to get assistance call 2-1-1 or call 1-231-722-7871 ext. 1071