The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program organized by the United Way is now accepting appointments, but program managers are still searching for volunteers to help file an expected 750 tax returns this year.
VITA is an Internal Revenue Service program that offers free tax preparation for individuals or households making under $57,000 per year. The program is locally facilitated by United Way of Alamance County each year.
"A lot of people qualify and it's not something a lot of folks think of because people say, 'Oh, I just pay someone to get my tax return prepared, done, submitted,' but it can be expensive," Sally Gordon, the director of community change with United Way of Alamance County, said. "We've really seen the need for (free tax preparation) and the need for a lot of these folks to get these returns back in their pockets."
Free tax preparation is available at four sites in the county including the United Way office on Front Street in Burlington, the Kernodle Center in Burlington, Alamance Community College in Graham and the CityGate Dream Center in Burlington.
The VITA program cannot prepare returns for businesses, military service members, returns with any rental property income, returns with any sales assets other than a home or stocks and bonds, or international residents.
Appointments are available between Feb. 7 and mid-April. According to Ron Cardwell, a volunteer leading the VITA effort, more than 200 appointments have been scheduled thus far and about 500 remain.
United Way's goal for the year is to prepare 750 returns, which is a big jump over the 214 federal income tax returns filed last year, bringing $242,015 back to Alamance County.
To schedule your appointment, visit book.appointment-plus.com/d6nj1ztk/#/ or call (910) 597-7123.
The program is operated entirely by volunteers including intake staff and volunteer tax preparers who have to take IRS certification trainings to qualify.
"We rely very heavily on volunteers and we're really pushing the volunteer train right now because the more volunteers we have, the more returns we can do," Gordon said.
Cardwell said he is hoping to gather at least 30 volunteers to assist throughout the program's duration.
"I'm targeting 30 as my wishful optimistic thinking and the further we get down below 20, the more of a struggle it's going to be for us to get things done," he said.
Volunteers get free training, can work flexible hours and can chose their level of involvement by working intake or being a tax preparer. Training includes ethics and code of conduct, intake and quality, and tax preparation. All trainings are offered virtually due to the pandemic.
For more information about how to become a VITA volunteer, call (336) 203-3332.
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Elizabeth Pattman is the trending topics reporter for the Times-News in Burlington, covering business, COVID-19 and all things trending. Contact Elizabeth (she/her) at email@example.com. I'm also available on social media @EPattmanTN on Twitter or @burlingtontimesnews on Instagram.
This article originally appeared on Times-News: Appointments now available for VITA free tax prep; volunteers needed in Alamance County