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State Treasurer: Volunteers Needed To Connect Michigan's Most Vulnerable Residents With Free Tax Preparation Services
Nov. 23, 2021
State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks today made an urgent call for eligible Michiganders to take part in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program before the 2022 individual income tax season.
The VITA program is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-sponsored program that provides free tax help to people who generally make $57,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns.
Volunteer recruitment is vital every year, but this year's needs are particularly pressing. While COVID-19 has depleted the ranks of volunteers by nearly 70% at some community programs, the number of residents who need free tax preparation services continues to climb.
"Becoming a VITA Volunteer is an opportunity to make a difference in your community," State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said. "Tax prep can be stressful. Helping your neighbors through the VITA program provides high impact help in a very meaningful and rewarding manner."
Volunteer tax preparation helps Americans claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), federal tax benefits that help workers care for their families, withstand unexpected economic changes, and reduce poverty. VITA programs save Michiganders approximately $19.5M annually in tax preparation fees alone.
"Expansion to important tax credits means that thousands of families will need filing assistance this tax season," said Brian Rakovitis, Director of Economic Inclusion at the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM). "It's no secret that tax prep can be stressful for all of us. But without access to affordable tax preparation services, Michiganders could leave millions of state and federal refunds on the table each year."
Volunteers assisting with the VITA Program come from all walks of life: working professionals, retirees, college and high school students, IRS employees, and people who just want to contribute to their community. No previous tax experience is required.
VITA tax volunteers are assigned to work with a sponsoring organization, first to receive training and then to begin volunteering at a convenient location. Training is offered both online and in the classroom.
Tax sites are generally open nights and weekends, and the hours are flexible, allowing volunteers to choose time slots that fit their schedules. Individuals can sign up through the IRS.
"Being a VITA volunteer can be immensely gratifying," IRS spokesperson Luis D. Garcia said. "It means getting IRS training and using IRS-certified software to provide good, honest and free tax help. It's about being part of a program that brings back millions of dollars to local communities throughout Michigan."
Taxpayer Assistance Information
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