Oskaloosa.com

January 19, 2013

United Way VITA tax site volunteers needed


The Oskaloosa Herald

OSKALOOSA — Tax season is just around the corner, and United Way of Mahaska County is in need of volunteers to help with their VITA Tax Site program.

United Way is currently looking for individuals interested in becoming IRS Certified VITA Volunteer Preparers as well as receptionists for the appointment days. Tax preparation assistance will be offered beginning in February and continue into mid-April, and assistance will be by appointment only. Site hours are typically on Saturdays and select week nights, but will vary depending on volunteer availability. Volunteers can choose the hours they would like to volunteer.

A free online course and certification is offered to all volunteers, and no formal education is required. United Way staff member Julie Hyland, who oversees the VITA Tax Site program, will provide prospective volunteers with training workbooks and additional information. Everything is done online, including an online course and a certification test that can be taken up to two times. A few volunteers are also needed to be receptionists, also no training required, to assist with the site when it is open. Anyone interested in becoming an IRS Certified VITA Volunteer Preparer or receptionist needs to contact Julie at (641) 673-6043 as soon as possible.

The VITA Tax Site is an opportunity for low- to middle-income families (annual income of $49,000 or less) to have their taxes filed by a certified preparer, free of charge. When the program begins, families requiring the VITA Tax Site services will need to set up an appointment. The VITA Tax Site program is BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.

In 2012, our volunteers helped return $260,805 to local taxpayers in Mahaska County through state and federal tax refunds and credits, including $116,882 in Earned Income Tax Credits. The EITC is a federal anti-poverty measure for lower-income working individuals that lowers taxes or grant refunds through a tax return. The average taxpayers’ income was under $11,000 per year, and the average total refund received was $1,600.

The program continues to see an increase each year. In 2012, the program saw an increase of 14 percent over the prior year, as the number of people that depend on this service continues to rise.