The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is an IRS sponsored program that provides free income tax preparation assistance to households in need. Volunteers are recruited and trained by the Community Action Agency, they take IRS sponsored tests and become certified tax preparers. Those who qualify are able to get their taxes filed for free and have their refunds direct deposited. Many of their clients either didn’t file appropriately or didn’t file at all in the past. These families are now able to have the refund they deserve, money which is spent locally and is helping them become financially stable.
Last year 4,157 taxes were prepared for Jackson County households through the VITA program. $5,375,383.00 was returned to the Jackson Community and spent locally as a result of this United Way funded program. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is one of our biggest success stories. It has a ripple effect that reaches beyond the qualifying households and benefits our whole community
It’s not always about money. Last year a single father working toward his master’s degree told us the few hundred dollars he used to spend to have his taxes prepared, instead went to put food on the table for his young daughter. For the past three years he had his taxes prepared through the VITA program. He used to do his taxes himself. While using the VITA program, after signing in for his appointment and completing his paperwork, he would use the extra time to study. The certified preparers were able to get him education credits on top of his refund. The Vita program not only helped him financially but made life just a little easier while he was earning his master’s degree. In April, he graduated from Eastern Michigan University.