Free tax-prep offered to low-income residents

Published 12:47 pm Tuesday, January 28, 2014

For the third year, free income tax assistance will be offered in Pike County through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA).

The VITA site is located at the Pike County Extension Office, 306 S. Three Notch St. in Troy. Hours are 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Grant Lyons, Pike County Extension coordinator, said participation in the program is to increase from 100-plus last year to more than 200 this year.

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“VITA is an IRS program that offers free tax return preparation assistance and free electronic filing,” Lyons said. “To qualify for the VITA Program, you generally have to make $52,000 and below, however, VITA is also here to help people who cannot prepare their own taxes.

“IRS-certified and trained volunteers sponsored by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Troy University, and The Alabama Asset Coalition Board will help prepare basic tax returns in Troy and the surrounding community.”

Wil Golden, Regional Extension Agent and site coordinator, said that some tax credits have gone away, including the “Make It Work” credit that taxpayers have benefited from in the past, however, VITA volunteers may still help with other credits, such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.”

“In addition to being free, Individuals taking advantage of the e-file program and will receive their refunds in half the time compared to returns filed on paper and mailed and even faster when tax refunds are deposited directly into their bank account,” Golden said.

VITA volunteers in Troy have received specialized training form IRS officials and are certified by the IRS to do basic and intermediate level tax returns.

“W2 forms go out this month, and we know a lot of families are in a hurry to get their taxes done because they need the refund. We are just encouraging those who qualify to wait until the VITA sites open later this month so they can get their taxes done for free.”

In addition to free tax preparation services and electronic filing, the Pike County VITA site will also offer assistance in referrals to financial education, training and programs.

“Our area has been hit hard by the economy and families need to be able to keep as much of their earnings as possible, Golden said. “We want people to come in today and get their taxes done.”

For more information, call the Pike County Extension office 334-566-0985.