December 20, 2021
By Jessica Mathews / email@example.com
The grant funding will help Livingston County Veterans Services provide free tax preparation services as part of a promotional effort aimed at bringing veterans into the doors of the local office and relating them to their eligible services.
The department is already receiving an MVAA County Veteran Service Fund or a CVSF grant. Michigan lawmakers have since allocated an additional $ 900,000 to help improve the work of counties that have already received grants.
The Veterans Services Committee met last week and agreed to promote the CVSF program add-on to be used as a promotional product offering free tax prep with every VA benefit screen. The grant funds are dedicated to new initiatives to help all veterans reap their benefits and reach new ones.
Director Mary Durst said the office is currently inundated with requests for tax services every year, and estimates they could serve anywhere from 55 to 100 veterans, depending on the award. She said it had been on her radar for years and was something inexpensive that could have a big impact.
Durst commented that tax preparation is basically “a cookie” to lure them in because they want to get their information into the system and check them for their legitimate benefits. She said they also want to reach out to veterans who may have higher incomes but should not come and still receive benefits. Durst said these are the people who are hard to reach because office is viewed as a social security or welfare issue and this could be a great way to break that stigma.
Durst stated that if every eligible county applies, the local award would be about $ 11,000, but every county doesn’t apply, so at least it would be, but probably more. Appointments would be set where veterans would be checked for performance first, all of their information entered into the system, and then their taxes handled by a professional company.
Any veteran eligible for VA benefits would qualify for promotion as the purpose of the scholarship is to make each veteran eligible for VA benefits at the local office. Durst said they would like to reach new veterans and that there was no income limit. She said even if a veteran calls and the seats are taken they could still tell them to come in to see what the benefits are as the goal is to have that contact.
The subsidy for tax preparation is granted up to the amount granted according to the principle of “first come, first served”.
If the knockdown is more than $ 25,000, the department must place a bid for tax advisor and select the low bid. If not, the district administrator could approve it.