It’s that time again, another Wonky Word Wednesday. With many Montanans receiving their W2s and free tax prep sites opening their doors this week across the state, tax season is officially off and running.
Let’s delve into a service that makes it easier for you to get more of what you earn back and invest in your community. Today’s wonky word is VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance).
VITA is an IRS program that was created in 1971 to help low-and moderate-income taxpayers receive free tax filing assistance. Visiting a local VITA site enables individuals to file taxes without errors, receive their refunds sooner, and claim credits that can be overlooked, like the federal earned income tax credit (EITC), or deductions for students paying for college.
Every year, fellow Montanans around the state volunteer their time – usually from January through April – first becoming IRS-certified volunteers and then helping individuals in their community file electronic income tax returns free of charge.
Individuals with yearly incomes of $54,000 or less and with fairly straightforward returns qualify for free services through VITA sites and can pick from many site locations. This year, organizations focused on improving Montanans’ financial security, like Montana Credit Unions for Community Development and Rural Dynamics, Inc., are operating over 60 VITA sites located from Missoula to Glendive and in between.
Additionally, 25 free tax assistance sites through AARP are also located throughout Montana, geared toward providing individualized tax preparation for low-and middle-income seniors. However, non-AARP members can also receive free tax filing support through these Tax-Aide sites too.