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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Encourages Michiganders to Help Their Neighbors by Becoming a Free Tax Preparation Volunteer

Today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a unique opportunity for Michigan residents to contribute to their communities during the upcoming 2024 tax filing season through participation in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

Free tax preparation services are available to people who generally make $60,000 or less, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their tax returns.

“Free tax preparation services lower costs for working families and help them get back every dollar that they are owed after we rolled back the retirement tax and quintupled the Working Families Tax Credit earlier this year,” said Gov. Whitmer. “I encourage Michiganders to volunteer with their local VITA program so they can make sure their neighbors maximize their tax refunds and bring their hard-earned state and federal dollars back into their communities. I am proud that earlier this year we delivered over $1 billion in tax relief for seniors and working families, directly benefitting half the kids in Michigan. Now, let’s make sure that relief gets back into the hands of the people who need it most."

Last filing season, VITA programs collectively saved Michigan residents approximately $15.2 million in tax preparation fees and channeled an impressive $52 million back into the pockets of Michiganders.

With the changes in state law to boost the Earned Income Tax Credit for Working Families from 6% to 30% and the Retirement Tax being rolled back, it’s now more important working families and older Michiganders to take advantage of tax preparation services to receive their earned benefits.

"VITA relies on the dedication of volunteers statewide to assist hardworking residents in accessing the federal and state tax benefits they’ve earned," said Chief Deputy Treasurer Jeff Guilfoyle. "While many individuals qualify for free tax preparation services, we require additional volunteers across the state for the VITA program to ensure tax help can be found in our communities and local neighborhoods. This program epitomizes Michiganders at our best: neighbors helping neighbors.”

VITA volunteers are community members trained to help their neighbors file their taxes for free and claim every tax credit available to them. Their service directly aids individuals and families in securing financial stability, weathering unexpected financial challenges, and enhancing overall economic well-being.

"Anyone can volunteer with VITA," said Brian Rakovitis, Director of Economic Inclusion at the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM). "No tax experience is needed, the training for IRS certification is free, and the hours are flexible."

Given that no tax experience is required, 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 simply want to contribute to their community.

Volunteers participating in the VITA Program are paired with a sponsoring organization, where they receive comprehensive training before embarking on their volunteer journey at a convenient location. Training options include both online and in-person formats. Tax assistance sites typically operate during evenings and weekends, accommodating volunteers' varying schedules. Interested individuals can sign up now through the IRS.

"I've been working with VITA for years now because I've seen how much these services mean to my neighbors," said Mary D., a volunteer tax preparer for United Way of South Central Michigan. "The refunds...the credits they claim, it can help them pay their rent, afford car maintenance they've been putting off, or even help put food on the table."

For more than 50 years, the IRS’ VITA and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs have offered free basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals. Although the IRS manages VITA and TCE programs, sites are operated by volunteers who want to make a difference in their communities.

In addition to the VITA and TCE programs, the AARP Foundation administers the Tax-Aide program to help older taxpayers with low to moderate incomes receive tax preparation assistance. Volunteers are encouraged sign up for the Tax-Aide program on the AARP Foundation website.

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