Volunteers helping families

Tax time can be stressful for all of us and for families who need the money, it’s also an additional expense.

That’s why we are proud to be a partner in the Middlesex VITA Coalition, which offers free tax preparation assistance to low- and moderate-income families.

Here in our office, from January through April, we host a VITA — or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance— a site where families can make an appointment to have a certified volunteer help prepare their taxes.

The sites wrapped up a couple of weeks ago, and the two VITA sites in Middletown—one at our office and the other at the North End Action Team (NEAT) — helped more than 500 Middlesex County area residents file their taxes for free, bringing $829,338 in tax refunds back to the Middletown area. Those who qualified for refunds had an average income of just over $20,000 last year and received an average federal refund of $1,615.

In addition to helping local families, this program injects a tremendous amount of money into the local economy.

And it’s all done by volunteers. These volunteers are trained and certified by the IRS, and they work many long nights (and some weekends) to ensure local taxpayers receive all the refunds and credits they’ve earned, like the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

The VITA program is an official IRS program. We have two sites in downtown Middletown, and they are coordinated by the Middlesex VITA Coalition, a partnership of Middlesex United Way and NEAT. The Middlesex VITA Coalition receives support from the Connecticut Association of Human Services as well as generous financial and in-kind support from Liberty Bank Foundation, Seasons Federal Credit Union, Middlesex Community College, the city of Middletown and the Middlesex United Way Women’s Initiative, 211 CT, and Russell Library.

Our vision here at Middlesex United Way is for families in Middlesex County to be financially stable, and that’s why we’re involved in programs like the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program that helps families improve their economic situation. Within our financial stability work, we’re also focused on job and literacy training and providing access to basic needs. To learn more about our focus on financial stability, visit middlesexunitedway.org/income.

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