VALPARAISO, Ind. - Free federal income tax preparations, hosted by United Way of Porter County (UWPC), achieved a totaled 640 returns for the 2014 tax year, which is nearly a 20% increase from the 536 returns prepared for the 2013 tax year. The tax preparations were completed through UWPC’s volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The on-site tax preparation service using IRS trained volunteers was targeted to those whose adjusted gross incomes were $53,000 or less.
In addition, Porter County taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes under $60,000 were able to take advantage of a free do-it-yourself online tax preparation service: “myfreetaxes.com”. In all, 40 Porter County taxpayers used this service and prepared their own returns online for free. Additionally, many elderly taxpayers who were not required to file a federal tax form were assisted in applying for a State of Indiana elderly credit.
The free service was provided throughout the tax season. Through UWPC’s assistance of tax preparation, $654,093 in tax refunds were returned to the community. In addition, a total of 670 state returns were completed, including several for other states. The total state refunds amounted to $75,200, and earned income credit totaled $343,927.
“We are pleased to provide this service, especially to those in most in need: the elderly, low to moderate income, and persons with disabilities, many of who are dependent on receiving either refunds or earned income credit,” said Sharon Kish, UWPC President.
Kish credited the achievement to the 13 volunteers “who made this milestone happen.” All volunteer preparers are trained and certified by the Internal Revenue Service using both online materials and in-person assistance.
“The more volunteers we have for the program, the more people can be served,” said Kish. “We continue to look for more volunteers to participate in the program. This year, five new volunteers became certified by the IRS to prepare tax returns.”
For more information about VITA, call George Kuebler, UWPC VITA Site Coordinator at (219) 464-3583 x128 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested in becoming volunteer tax preparers for the next tax season are urged to call or email their interest in the program. Formal training will begin in November, but on-line resources are available year round for initial orientation to the program for those interested.