More than 920 people got free help through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites

By Dann Denny 331-4350 | ddenny@heraldt.com
August 2, 2011

More than 920 low- to moderate-income residents in Monroe and Owen counties received free assistance filing their taxes at five Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites in the spring — more than twice the number that were helped the year before.

The assistance was provided through the Free Community Tax Service, which opened two new sites last spring — in Monroe County at the South Central Community Action Program and in Owen County at the Owen County Public Library.

In all, the Free Community Tax Service, which uses more than 100 trained volunteers, served residents at seven sites in Monroe and Owen counties — five administered through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and two through the AARP Tax-Aide Program.

The busiest site was at Ivy Tech in Bloomington, where more than 550 returns were filed, six percent more than the year before.

United Way executive director Barry Lessow said that not only did participants save money by filing their taxes for free, but many also received the Earned Income Tax Credit — a refundable federal income tax credit for low-to-moderate income working individuals and families.

“In most cases, those funds went to pay for essentials like food and housing, and people who needed those dollars were able to receive their refunds more quickly because they completed their returns electronically.”

Ivy Tech Bloomington Chancellor John Whikehart said the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program affords Ivy Tech students hands-on learning opportunities by working directly with clients to complete tax returns.

“Since VITA is a free service, the low-to-moderate income community is able to keep the money that they would have otherwise paid for tax preparation,” Whikehart said.

In addition to the United Way of Monroe County, groups that participated in the tax-assistance program included 2-1-1, AARP, Area 10 Agency on Aging, City of Bloomington, El Centro Comunal Latino, Ellettsville Branch Library, the Financial Stability Alliance for South Central Indiana, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Ivy Tech Community College, Monroe County Public Library, Owen County Public Library, South Central Community Action Program, Twin Lakes Recreation Center, Walmart, WorkOne Bloomington, and community volunteers.

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2011