By JAN DEMERS
An IRS-certified intern from the University of Vermont who works with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program said, “As a local anti-poverty agency, CVOEO (the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity) acts as an incredible resource for Vermonters with low income. Having the ability to work with members of the local community was my favorite part of the internship. I had clients from all over the Chittenden community and beyond.”
The VITA Program offers free tax help to eligible people who make $54,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to eligible individuals in our communities. They inform taxpayers about special tax credits such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.
In regard to his experience, the intern added, “Every individual had a unique story and situation. I completed a tax return for the crossing guard I walk by every day on my way home, the Price Chopper clerk who served me at the register last week, and a UVM construction worker. I had clients who had been in jail, some that were refugees, and many who received government aid. They entrusted me with a lot of personal information that I took unbiasedly and confidentially.”
In Chittenden County, the first step to accessing the free tax help service is to call 211 and choose option five. The person on the other end of the phone will schedule your appointment. For Vermonters whose phones do not have an 802-area code, call 802-652-4636. Since information and documentation gathering ensures an accurate income tax submission, when you call to make an appointment, you will be told what to bring and who needs to be present.
CVOEO offices in Middlebury, Burlington, and St. Albans can make paying your taxes or accessing a refund much easier. Earned Income Tax Credit refund and other refunds mean that past bills can be paid, and stability is more certain.
Another way to access free tax assistance for anyone earning $62,000 or less is an online service provided through United Way found at MyFreeTaxes.com. In past years, 70 percent of the people using this program completed their taxes in under one hour.