Volunteers and staff from CAP Services’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program gathered in Wautoma Saturday, April 13 to celebrate the completion of the tax filing season. Pictured are: (seated, from left) Catherine Mulvey, Penny Baugrud, Connie Henn and Brittany Byers; and (standing, from left) Don Anders, Glenn Ehlers, Jim Gardner, Tylor Whistler, Harold Nigbor, Paul Theyel, Judy Schierland, Mary Suchanek and Erin Olson.

This past tax season, CAP Services’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) served 252 households in Waushara County. The program’s 15 volunteers helped eligible taxpayers claim a total of more than $320,000 in state and federal tax refunds.

“In addition to being great for our local economy and the individuals served by this program, these results speak volumes about the exceptional skill and dedication of our volunteers,” said Erin Olson of CAP Services. “The VITA program requires a combination of technical knowledge and interpersonal skill, as well as a great deal of flexibility in addressing each unique tax situation.”

VITA helps individuals and families maximize their tax returns. 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, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and Wisconsin’s Homestead Credit.

“The EITC continues to be one of the most significant resources available to low-income families,” said Olson. “Many do not claim this and other credits due to lack of information or access.”

One third of the households served by CAP claimed EITC, for an average credit of $1,500 per household.

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.

In Waushara County, 15 volunteers assisted 227 households through in-person appointments. An additional 25 households accessed free filing through MyFreeTaxes.com. Total state and federal refunds were $321,955 and filers saved an estimated $51,612 in preparation fees.
VITA partners in Waushara County include the IRS, Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin, National Exchange Bank Foundation and Prosperity Now.