Mar 03, 2014 |
Cattaraugus County residents should call 373-2534 for an appointment or to see if they qualify for free tax return preparation
After five weeks of tax season, including working during mid-term break, VITA volunteers have prepared 265 tax returns and generated almost $600,000 in tax refunds, including more than $247,000 in federal and state Earned Income Credit, for Cattaraugus County workers.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program operates out of the United Way office at 807 W. State St., Olean, next to NAPA Auto Parts and across the street from Raymour & Flanigan.
St. Bonaventure University student volunteers include 35 tax preparers certified at the Advanced level or higher by the IRS as the result of attending rigorous training and passing challenging ethics and tax tests. Many are also certified by New York state under a similar testing procedure.
The office will remain open until April 4. Operating days are Monday through Saturday, with morning, afternoon, and evening appointment times available. For more information or to make an appointment, call (716) 373-2534, or visit www.irs.gov.
The St. Bonaventure VITA site is an innovative, high-volume program that operates on an appointment basis, and has the capacity to prepare over 100 tax returns per week during “tax season” 2014.
The St. Bonaventure volunteers are trained not only to prepare high quality tax returns, but also to explain the tax return to the taxpayer and to answer the taxpayer’s questions. To qualify for free tax return preparation and electronic filing, Cattaraugus County workers must have a family income of $50,000 or less. Candidates will go through an entrance interview to see whether they qualify for free assistance. Those who qualify must bring a valid picture I.D., Social Security cards, all W-2 forms, and Forms 1099 to their tax preparation appointment.
Since 2004, the University’s VITA program has brought federal and state income tax benefits to people with low and moderate incomes by providing free income tax preparation and e-filing. The program focuses on workers who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit available to low- and moderate-income workers with earned income.
In the first 10 years of operation, VITA tax preparer volunteers have contributed 17,000 service hours, and prepared 3,560 tax returns, to help Cattaraugus County residents earn more than $5.5 million in tax refunds.
Accounting majors, alumni, and faculty from St. Bonaventure volunteer to make the program possible under the leadership of Dr. Susan Anders, professor of accounting and site coordinator for the VITA program.
The St. Bonaventure VITA program operates in partnership with the Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services and the United Way of Cattaraugus County, which provide resources for the activity.