Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) -- February 2012

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Have you heard about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) that provides free tax preparation for families and individuals with annual incomes of less than $50,000? The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sponsors the VITA program and works with partners like the United Way, AARP, community-based organizations and government agencies to run free tax preparation sites in every county in New York State. Most counties have multiple VITA sites. Not only can you get your taxes prepared for free at your local VITA site, but your tax returns can be electronically filed and your refund can be deposited directly into your bank account within 10 days if you select the direct deposit option.

At your local VITA site, IRS certified volunteers from your community will prepare your taxes for free, carefully ensuring that you receive all of the tax credits for which you are eligible. These tax credits may include the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs), credits related to caring for your dependent children or adult dependents, education related credits, and more.

Because a variety of partners sponsor VITA sites, some provide additional services and may be able to prepare taxes for families or individuals with annual incomes above $50,000. Specifically, the AARP, through their Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program, provides tax preparation services to people over 60 along with financial counseling. Some VITA sites offer translation services for non-English speaking taxpayers.

Hours of operation vary from site to site. Be sure to contact your local VITA site ahead of time to find out if they accept walk-ins or require you to make an appointment. The common thread among all VITA sites is a commitment to offering quality, free tax preparation for those who need it.

To find more information about VITA sites in your community:
• call IRS VITA hotline toll free at 1-800-906-9887 or
• dial 2-1-1, the United Way information and referral hotline, active in most areas of the state or
• go to www.myBenefits.ny.gov and click on the Resource for Working Families Link and scroll down to Free Tax Preparation / VITA.

This is tax time so take the first step today and connect with your local site.

Thank you for calling the Senior Consumer Information Line. If you would like to obtain more information or file a consumer complaint please contact the Department of State Division of Consumer Protection’s Consumer Assistance Hotline at 1-800-697-1220 or visit our website at www.dos.ny.gov.