CAP Services’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) served 604 households in its service area this past tax season. Volunteers helped eligible taxpayers claim more than $1 million in state and federal tax refunds for a second consecutive year.
A total of 26 VITA volunteer tax preparers assisted 280 households in Portage County, 175 in Waushara County, and 149 in Waupaca County.
“The dedication of our volunteers is really remarkable, going far beyond just a weekly commitment,” said Erin Olson, CAP Project Development Coordinator. “The VITA program requires a combination of technical knowledge and interpersonal skills, not to mention a great deal of flexibility in addressing each unique tax situation.”
The VITA program helps individuals and families maximize their tax returns and minimize fees. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation and inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify, such as the Child Tax Credit, Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
“The EITC continues to be one of the most significant resources available to low-income families,” said Mary Patoka, CAP President and CEO. “Many do not claim this and other credits due to lack of information or access.”
The annual federal tax refund is the largest sum of cash many American households receive all year, often amounting to up to 20% of annual household income. In addition to helping cover basic household expenses, a family’s tax refund also offers a chance to put some money into savings.
Primary funders of the VITA program include the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin and United Way of Portage County. BMO Harris Bank and First National Bank of Waupaca made significant donations for the 2014-2015 tax season.