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Tax season is taxing for most of us, but many lower-income and elderly people find it especially complex and costly. A helping hand can make a big difference.
Each year, as part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, qualified volunteer tax preparers in Forsyth County, N.C., fan out across the community, preparing taxes for free for people making $54,000 a year or less. This year, group of six RAI Services (RAIS) employees — all finance professionals — joined the volunteer effort on behalf of the nonprofit Experiment in Self-Reliance after getting the necessary training and certification.
“It was truly a rewarding experience,” said Edna Bonilla, a senior manager in the finance department and one of the volunteers. “The clientele is very grateful for the patience, time and knowledge invested in assisting them with the preparation of their tax returns. I would gladly volunteer going forward and encourage others to participate in the VITA program.”
The other volunteers this year were Joshua Hulin, Liqing Carey, Bruce Nix, Jim Carros and Dianise Maldonado. All were recently honored for their work with community-service certificates from the Internal Revenue Service, and they received special thank-you letters from the Experiment in Self Reliance. “They did an exceptional job, collectively contributing 80 hours this past tax season, and the payback was huge,” said Jerry Romans, vice president of special projects and board chairman of the local agency.
The VITA program, which is also supported by the United Way of Forsyth County, focuses on the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This represents the largest anti-poverty program in the U.S., lifting 9 million people out of poverty by providing low-income working adults with a tax credit based on their income. On average, a qualified Forsyth County taxpayer receives $1,700 in EITC credit, and sometimes the credit can be more than the amount earned during the year. In addition to benefiting working families, the credit brings money directly into the community. Volunteer tax preparers are educated on tax credits and help people receive every tax credit for which they qualify. For the 2017 tax season, nearly 4,000 returns — generating about $4.9 million in refunds, of which $2.3 million were EITC — were done through VITA/EITC programs in Forsyth County.
“This free tax preparation service is very much in line with our philanthropic mission,” Romans said. “It has a major economic impact, but it is very volunteer intensive, and we would love for more of our employees to participate next year.”
WINSTON-SALEM, NC – United Way of Forsyth County supported Forsyth Free Tax (FFT) is offering free tax preparation to low and moderate income families and seniors in Forsyth County from Feb. 1 to April 15.
FFT in collaboration with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, provides U.S. Internal Revenue Service-certified volunteers to prepare basic income tax returns free for individuals earning $54,000 a year or less. Individuals earning $64,000 or less, are able to file self-prepared returns online free at myfreetaxes.com (http://www.unitedway.org/myfreetaxes/)
The volunteer tax preparers will also assist with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) initiative, the largest anti-poverty program in the US, lifting 9 million people out of poverty. The EITC provides low-income working adults with a tax credit based on their income. On average, a qualified Forsyth County taxpayer receives $1,700 in EITC credit, and the credit can sometimes total more than the amount earned during the year. In addition to benefiting working families, the credit brings money directly into the Forsyth County community.
The free tax services will be provided from 13 locations throughout Forsyth County:
Experiment in Self-Reliance (3480 Dominion Street, 336-722-9400) – Open Feb. 1 – April 18, Mondays-Thursdays 10 am — 3 pm, Saturdays 9 am- 1 pm, closed April 15.
Goodwill Industries (2760 Peters Creek Parkway, 336-201-0800) – Feb. 7 – April 13, Tuesdays, Thursdays 4 pm-7: 30 pm.
Goodwill Industries (2701 University Parkway, 336-724-3625) – Feb. 1 — April 13, Wednesdays, Thursdays 4 pm-8 pm
King Public Library (101 Pilot View Drive, King, NC, 336-983-3868) – Feb. 9 – April 13, Thursdays 4-8 pm, appointments only
Malloy-Jordan Center (1110 East 7th Street, 336-703-2950) – Feb. 11 – April 15, Saturdays 10 am-2 pm, closed April 8.
Mi Casa Servicios Hispano-Latino (1705 Link Road, 336-722-7040) – Feb. 1- April 18, Monday-Friday 9 am – 5 pm, closed April 14.
Prosperity Center South (508 Waughtown Street, 336-788-4965) – Feb. 1- April 17, Mondays 9 am -12 pm, Wednesdays 4 pm-8 pm, Fridays 11 am-3 pm, Saturdays 9 am-1 pm, closed April 14-15.
Winston-Salem Transit Authority (100 W. 5th Street, 336-727-2000) – Feb. 6- April 18, Mondays and Tuesdays 4 pm – 8 pm, Fridays 1 pm-5 pm, closed April 11.
Walnut Cove Senior Center (308 Brooke Street, Walnut Cove, NC, 336-591-5442) – Feb. 6 – April 17, Mondays 1 pm-5 pm, appointments only.
Winston-Salem Federal Credit Union (711 E Salem Ave., 336-727-2663) – Feb. 1 – April 13, Monday-Thursday 9 am – 4 pm, appointments only.
Rural Hall Library (7125 Broad Street, Rural Hall, NC, 336-703-2970) – Feb. 8 – April 12, Wednesdays 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., appointments only.
Participants are asked to bring a picture ID, Social Security card for themselves and each dependent they are claiming, all W-2s and 1099s, employer ID number or SS number of childcare providers, and last year’s tax returns if itemizing. Individuals desiring direct deposit of any refund are required to bring a check or savings account information.