Middlesex United Way seeking volunteer tax preparers; free training offered

MIDDLETOWN — Did you know there was an entirely free way to give back to your community, support the local economy and help a family financially? Maybe you haven’t heard of it, but the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program can help you accomplish all three.

VITA is a national program that helps bring millions of 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 and avoid tax preparation fees. It is important to know that low- to moderate-income families often do not file a tax refund, and money that they have earned is not refunded to them.

In 2018, Middletown VITA sites helped 542 Middlesex County area residents file their taxes, returning $839,300 in tax refunds back to the Middletown area. Those who qualified for refunds had an average income of just over $20,000 and received an average federal refund of $1,737. Of those served, there were an additional 101 dependents, mostly children, affected by this program.

With the exception of comfort with a computer, VITA volunteers do not need prior qualifications. 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 Jan. 2 or 7. 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 Jan. 28 to April 10 at Middlesex United Way’s office in 100 Riverview Center and NEAT’s office on Main Street.

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.

To volunteer or learn more, contact Linda Ring at 860-490-8211 or LINDA.RING.VITA@gmail.com

Kevin Wilhelm is CEO and president of the Middletown-based Middlesex United Way.