Allegany County United Way is sponsoring free income tax preparation through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. With tax preparation sites in Bolivar, Wellsville, Houghton, Scio, Cuba, and Richburg, many Allegany County residents are eligible to have their taxes prepared for no cost. The VITA program provides individuals and families that earned $53,000 or less in 2014 to file their taxes for free. How is this done? Through the work of generous volunteers who complete a series of tests to earn IRS certification in order to provide residents with an accurate tax return.
The IRS provides free tax law training and materials to individuals that are interested in learning how to prepare taxes. This year a total of 32 Allegany County volunteers have completed IRS certification and are helping local residents prepare their federal and state tax returns. In addition to local community members, tax preparers also include college students from Houghton College, Alfred University, and Alfred State College.
Bill Cox, Wellsville resident, said that he has enjoyed volunteering his time for the past six years
because he is able to meet and help new people in the community. “Every year has been very rewarding helping people get the tax credits they deserve. The program has grown every year and we are always looking to add volunteer preparers,” said Cox.
But it’s not only the volunteers that are rewarded by this program. After her family faced some significant life changes, Cuba resident Suzanne Krull said that she needed professional tax advice. “Thanks to the United Way’s VITA program, I know that I’m getting the full refund to which I am entitled. I highly recommend this program!” said Krull.
After taxes are prepared by the volunteer, they are quality reviewed ensuring that every taxpayer receives top quality service and that the tax-returns are error-free. Since mid-January when the program started, 365 tax returns have been filed for more than $650,000 in refunds to local taxpayers. Anyone interested in learning more about the program or having their taxes prepared for free, call 2-1-1 to find a preparation site near you and to make an appointment.
“When people are grateful for your help,” said Cox, “that makes it all worthwhile.”