If you are in need this tax season, the IRS's VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program is available for free to tax payers who meet a number of qualifications, which includes having an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $54,000 or less.
The program depends upon volunteers who are certified tax return preparers and allows those in need to take advantage of tax services they might not otherwise have access to.
"It is important that this program exists because it offers free tax preparation for those who may find it difficult to pay for a professional tax service to do their returns," explained George Kuebler, VITA Coordinator at the United Way of Porter County. "This program aims to serve the elderly, disabled, and low income, but all those that fit within the scope [of the program] are welcome to participate."
The most important items to bring include the following:
- Proof of Identification (Driver's License/State ID).
- Birth Dates for you, your spouse, and dependents on the tax return.
- Social Security Cards for yourself, spouse, and dependents.
For a more complete list of what to bring as well as what the VITA program can prepare, click here.
There are other limitations which are out of the scope of what the VITA program can do, but they vary on an individual basis. For example, rental income is not within the scope of the program.
- Taxpayers should bring with them any and all of the information they have regarding income and potential deductions to ensure the most accurate return. Property tax information or rental information will help in reducing Indiana state income as well, and, as always, it is best to call if you have questions.
"As the VITA coordinator here at the United Way, I find it quite satisfying that we can help many people who need tax services and have issues doing it themselves and/or having to pay for professional tax services," explained Kuebler. "We serve, every year, a number of elderly people who don’t have use of a computer, for example. The tax law has many twists and turns, and the goal is to apply tax law as it pertains to the individual so that they pay only what they owe, no less or no more. There are many programs under tax law, such as Earned Income Credit, that make funds available for low to moderate income families that some people have difficulty navigating. Our volunteers exam all possible avenues to see that they qualify."
In 2017, Kuebler and his volunteer team filed more than 1,500 tax returns for Northwest Indiana residents. United Way of Porter County is one of 15 organizations that make up the Northwest Indiana Asset Building Coalition, which provides VITA program services in Lake, Porter, Pulaski, and Starke Counties.
If you would like to make an appointment, click here. Appointments are available until April 16th. You may also call (219) 464-3583 x108 for more information or to make an appointment. If interested in VITA services in another county, click here.
Not in the Adjusted Gross Income range of $54,000 or less? United Way also supports a free online tax service program that is available to individuals with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $66,000 or less called MyFreeTaxes.com.