MIDDLETOWN — For families and individuals, tax season can bring on many emotions. Some families worry they may have filled out a confusing form incorrectly, and will end up owing. Some eagerly await opening day so they can get their return as fast as possible.
Sadly, for many, tax season means fear and confusion. Fortunately, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program helps to solve this problem.
VITA is a national program that helps bring millions of hard earned dollars back to working people in our state. Through this program, volunteers are trained and certified by the IRS to offer free income tax assistance to low- to moderate-income households.
Aside from ensuring local families receive a tax refund, as a VITA volunteer, you will also help individuals and families ensure they receive the credits for which they are eligible, all while avoiding costly tax preparation fees. It is important to know that low- to moderate-income families often do not file a tax refund, and money they have earned is not refunded to them.
In 2019, Middletown VITA sites helped 657 Middlesex County area residents file their taxes, returning $967,300 in tax refunds back to the Middletown area. Those who qualified for refunds had an average income of just over $20,000. Of those served, there were over 100 dependents, mostly children, affected by this program.
With the exception of comfort with a computer, VITA volunteers do not need prior qualifications or experience to help. During your training, you will work in small teams led by experienced coordinators and have the opportunity to become certified as an advanced tax preparer for the VITA program. Past volunteers often return year after year, and truly find the work and experience rewarding.
Training will be held Jan 6 and 8 or Jan. 7 and 9, both from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The remainder will be self-training with mentor support. Upon completion of training, all volunteers must pass a self-administered certification test in order to prepare taxes.
VITA volunteers must complete a minimum of one four-hour shift per week during tax season in the late afternoons, evenings, Saturdays or Wednesdays. Tax preparation is offered from Jan. 27 to April 11 at Middlesex United Way’s office in 100 Riverview Center and at the North End Action Team at 654 Main St.
VITA is a free program offered by the federal government. Local VITA sites are coordinated by the Middlesex VITA Coalition, a partnership of Middlesex United Way and the North End Action Team. The Middlesex VITA Coalition receives support from the Connecticut Association of Human Services.
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.