Each year in Allegany County over a million income tax refund dollars go unclaimed because low- and middle- income residents are unaware that they qualify for this benefit. This program provides free tax preparation, filing and referrals for financial asset building to hardworking individuals and families in Allegany County who qualify for the IRS Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Allegany County United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is open to any individual or family with an annual income of less than $52,000. “Our entire focus is to provide this free service so people can have all their refund dollars in their hands for maximum use to aid in their financial picture,” claims Joyce Weimer, United Way Board member and VITA volunteer.
“We’ve been operating VITA sites for six years and each year we have been able to serve more residents than the year before,” said Barbara Bates, executive director of the United Way. “Our program is 100 percent volunteer driven so we’re able to offer it for free to qualified residents.”
This year, Allegany County residents could choose from six VITA sites – Alco Federal Credit Union, Allegany Business Center, Allegany County United Way Office, Cuba Library and Houghton College. A team of 16 IRS-trained and certified volunteers helped families and individuals prepare and file 313 returns resulting in $454,979 in refunds.
During this year’s tax season, a couple came to our VITA
Site to have their taxes done. They
heard about the free tax preparation program on the radio. After completing the intake survey questions,
the couple shared that they did their own taxes last year. Upon further conversation the couple told about
how they had a baby who passed away shortly after birth in June 2012. They were not sure if they could claim him
for that tax year, so to be on the safe side they did not.
We filed their 2014 taxes and then filed an amended return
for the prior year. Between the deduction, child tax credit, and another amount
from unemployment that they forgotten to put down, they received a refund of
This came at a time when their vehicle had just
broken down and they really need the extra money for its repair in order for
them both to get to work.
They are very
happy we could help them not only with this year’s tax return but that we
helped with the previous year too.
For more information about Allegany County United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program call 585-567-0020.