HUNTINGTON – United Way of the River Cities is preparing for this year’s income tax season with its VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program. This year, however, it will be different due to COVID-19 concerns.
“All VITA locations are by appointment only and will use a drop-off service,” said Amy Messinger, VITA program coordinator for United Way of the River Cities in Huntington.
Instead of coming to the website as in previous years, taxpayers can call 844-WVCARES (982-2737) to be placed on the VITA recall list.
“After the taxpayers have made an appointment, they will receive a call from one of our volunteers in early February before the visit,” said Messinger. “This call explains what to bring and what to expect when you get to the site.”
According to Messinger, volunteers will prepare tax returns and taxpayers will come back later or on another day to collect their tax returns.
“Available days and times will be discussed when a volunteer calls to make an appointment,” Messinger said.
She added that additional security measures are in place to protect tax information and that all visitors and volunteers at a location must wear a mask and social distancing.
The locations are in many known locations as well as some new locations.
This year’s locations include the Barboursville Public Library, the Gallaher Village Public Library, the Goodwill Industries main office on Memorial Boulevard in Huntington, the Hamlin Community Center, the Huntington West Virginia Housing Authority’s Johnston Center, the MVB Banking Huntington Branch, the Milton Office of the Southwestern Community Action Council and the Southwestern Community The Pleasant Office of the Action Council Point, Unlimited Future Inc. and the office of the Wayne County Economic Development Agency (EDA).
She said that this year they will also be able to offer a fully virtual tax preparation process.
“Taxpayers can start the virtual process from February 1st at www.getyourrefund.org/uwrcvita,” she said. “When taxpayers have an email address and a mobile phone or other digital device like a tablet, they can securely and electronically provide us with information without leaving home. Our VITA volunteers will call to discuss the tax return and the tax return will be prepared by one of our IRS certified VITA volunteers. “
The program is aimed at low to middle income households who generally qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, for the disabled or the elderly.
“During admission, a volunteer will review tax documents and income levels to ensure that the VITA program can prepare for the return,” explained Messinger. “The VITA program will be able to prepare returns for most qualified individuals. However, VITA cannot prepare returns with agricultural income, rental income and self-employment with losses, business use of the house or depreciation. “
United Way of the River Cities has been coordinating the program in collaboration with IRS and local nonprofits for more than 10 years in various locations and online.
“If you have an income of $ 60,000 or less, most of you can qualify for the program,” Messinger said.
Messinger added that they are also suggesting using MyFreeTaxes.com, a free online tax preparation program available to anyone who wants a do-it-yourself option to create and file their own tax return electronically.
“MyFreeTaxes.com is 100% free and has no income limit for users,” she said.