MIDDLETOWN — Middlesex Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, a community initiative, offers free tax preparation to local residents with annual household incomes at or below $57,000, to ensure that families receive the tax refunds and credits to which they are entitled.
This year, Middlesex VITA, working with state and national organizations, has adapted its procedures to ensure the health and safety of clients and volunteers. The thousands of local households who have used VITA in the past will find that, while VITA’s free expert tax preparation remains the same, connecting with the service will be mostly online.
Eligible taxpayers will start the process by filling out an online questionnaire and uploading documents at getyourrefund.org/MDXVITA. After submission, a local IRS-certified VITA tax preparer will work with clients online and by phone to complete their tax returns.
Those who do not have access to a computer, tablet or smartphone are encouraged to ask a family member, friend, or social worker to help them get online. Though these initial steps may be new, our VITA volunteers have found them easy to work though and accomplish.
If that is not feasible, a client can call 2-1-1 (choose option 3, then 6) to set up a brief in-person appointment with a VITA volunteer at a Middletown location. Availability will be limited, and after the initial appointment, preparers will work with clients by phone.
VITA coordinator Jay Keisar describes the program as a valuable community asset. “The organization is composed of dedicated volunteers using their tax knowledge to provide free tax preparation to lower income families and individuals. All the volunteers have passed stringent IRS certification exams,” he said.
Keisar continued, “Our community benefits from VITA in many ways. As a result of the free tax returns, about $800,000 in refunds has been received by our clients. Most of this money is spent locally, which is a great economic stimulus. The organization brings together volunteers from many communities and develops a sense of pride for their accomplishments.”
VITA was first created by Congress over 50 years ago and operates in all 50 states. In a single year, Middlesex VITA helped over 650 Middlesex County residents file their taxes, returning $967,300 in tax refunds back to the greater Middletown area.
The Middlesex VITA coalition continues to grow, even amid a global pandemic, with new volunteers and a new organization on board. Russell Library has joined the partnership between the Middlesex United Way, the North End Action Team, and the Connection Association of Human Services to make this effort possible.
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middletown-based Middlesex United Way.