Published: 2/3/2022 9:39:16 AM
Modified: 2/3/2022 9:37:47 AM
The highly successful Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program launched Jan. 24 by Granite United Way, in partnership with Citizens, which generously supports the program with a $50,000 contribution.
“Each year this program plays an important role in developing financial stability throughout all of our regions,” said Patrick Tufts, President and CEO of Granite United Way. “During the pandemic, we were successful in reaching the low- to moderate-income households who relied on us in a virtual environment. The partnership with Citizens continues to play an important role in ensuring access to this program.”
This free tax preparation program is available to individuals and families with household incomes up to $58,000 annually. Taxes are prepared by IRS-certified volunteers who assist low- to moderate-income residents of the state to access the greatest amount of refunds.
Both Granite United Way and Citizens share a common goal of encouraging financial stability and recognize the importance of programs like VITA to families and individuals. The program has grown over the years, thanks in part to the support of Citizens.
“The VITA program has provided thousands of New Hampshire residents with free tax preparation assistance, helping put more financial resources back into the hands of local families,” said Joe Carelli, President, Citizens, New Hampshire.
It’s easy to schedule an appointment by visiting NHTaxHelp.org to see the full list of free tax sites in the state and to make their appointment. Those without internet access can call 211.
Some important changes individuals will see this year include:
■An expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for those without a child to claim; the expansion increases the age range to allow workers age 65+ and those as young as age 19 to claim this support for low-income working people.
■The Child Tax Credit was increased, and many people raising children received advance payments totaling up to half of the full credit. Those who got the advance payments or who missed out on them can file a tax return to claim the full amount for which they are eligible.
■A change to the Dependent Care Tax Credit can mean as much as $8,000 for those who paid for childcare or home care that allowed them to work or look for work.
“It was confusing to keep up with these changes, especially those newly-eligible for these benefits. It’s important that people not be taken advantage of by commercial preparers who charge high fees or “upsell.” They can claim all of these benefits by filing for free at a VITA site,” said Cary Gladstone, Senior Director of Asset Building at Granite United Way.
The EITC is a support for working people who don’t make a lot of money. According to the IRS, about 1-in-4 eligible New Hampshire residents fail to file for the EITC, leaving an estimated $49 million unclaimed. Volunteers are the foundation for the program, and this year they will play a critical role in ensuring questions regarding COVID-19 last year are answered.
“Several items including the EITC, providing refunds for families and the training our volunteers receive has been increasingly helpful for those filing through the VITA program,” said Tufts. “Our volunteers are dedicated to finding every credit available to those utilizing the program.”
Volunteers are still needed, and those interested can reach out to Cary Gladstone at 603-625-6939, ext. 128
“The VITA program impacts the community in so many ways,” said Briana Ferragamo, Citizens Branch Manager and VITA volunteer.
Granite United Way also encourages self-filers with internet access and a household income up to $73,000 to take advantage of MyFreeTaxes.com. This provides access to filing software at no cost and a toll-free number to call and chat line for tax questions. It is sponsored by United Way Worldwide and H & R Block.
The VITA program is a partnership with United Way, Citizens, the IRS and AARP Foundation Tax Aide.