Volunteer Income Tax Assistance &
the Earned Income Tax Credit
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA): Free Tax Preparation Services
In partnership with the IRS and local community coalitions, CAHS coordinates an annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Campaign across Fairfield, New Haven, and Litchfield Counties.
A national program, VITA provides free tax preparation services to low-to-moderate-income individuals and families earning less than $51,000 a year. IRS-trained volunteers are certified to prepare simple tax returns, and screen customers for special tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC), that can help them to make ends meet. Visiting a VITA site instead of a paid tax preparer saves each filer an average of $150. Taxes can be filed electronically, in which case refunds are received within 7-10 days.
Find a VITA Site Near You
VITA sites are located across the state of Connecticut, and are open from late January through mid-April. There is probably one in your neighborhood!
To find the VITA location most convenient for you, visit the 2-1-1 website. Appointments are preferred for most VITA sites; contact information and hours of operation for each site are available through 2-1-1 or the IRS website
What to bring with you to your VITA appointment:
- Valid photo ID
- Social Security cards or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) for you, your spouse & any dependents living with you
- Birth dates for you, your spouse & dependents
- Documentation for all income from work, Social Security or pensions including forms W-2, 1099-R, etc.
- Documentation for any deductible education expenses & student loan payments from 2012
- Interest & dividend statements from banks or other financial institutions, if any (Forms 1099)
- Total $ paid for child care in 2012. Bring day care provider’s address and tax ID number (the provider’s Social Security # or Employer Identification #)
- Copies of last year’s Federal & State income tax returns, if available
- Current year’s tax package, if you received one
- Voided check or checking account numbers if you want to have your refund direct deposited
Volunteer with VITA!
VITA relies on dedicated volunteers to provide free tax services to thousands of Connecticut residents each year from mid-January through mid-April. Volunteers can choose to become trained Tax Preparers or to serve as Greeters or Intake Specialists and provide valuable information to customers at VITA sites. A financial background is helpful, but NOT necessary! Training is provided by the IRS to ensure that all volunteers are comfortable with the basics of tax preparation, and ongoing support is provided on-site during the tax season. The time commitment is flexible and can often work around your schedule.
VITA volunteers do more than just prepare people’s taxes. They play a critical role in ensuring that all Connecticut residents are able to access valuable tax credits without paying high fees. Volunteers also provide important information to customers about other free programs such as benefits screening, financial education or budget coaching, helping clients to turn their tax refunds into long-lasting financial security. There are many benefits to becoming a VITA volunteer: free IRS training and materials to help you develop a lifelong skill and build your résumé; a variety of locations, dates, and times convenient to your schedule; ongoing support; a Certificate of Recognition & Letter of Appreciation from the IRS at the end of the tax season; and the personal satisfaction you’ll gain from providing an important service to your community.
VITA Volunteers are needed from mid-January through mid-April in Waterbury, Danbury, Bridgeport, Stratford, Torrington, Stamford, Norwalk, Winsted, New Haven, Hartford, and other communities across the state. To find out how you can promote family economic success as a Connecticut VITA volunteer in your area, visit ctvita.volunteerhub.com, or contact Lucille Sclafani at (860) 951-2212, ext. 230 or firstname.lastname@example.org
VITA and Asset-Building Services
Many VITA sites also connect customers to asset-building services and programs aimed at helping low-income customers to build wealth and improve their financial stability beyond the tax season, such as banking services, Individual Development Accounts (1:1 matched savings accounts), financial education classes, benefits screenings, and more. For more information about the asset-building services available in your area, please contact Lucille Sclafani, Vita Coordinator at CAHS, at (860) 951-2212, ext.230 or email@example.com
Host a VITA Site at Your Organization
Any nonprofit, public, or faith-based organization can become a VITA site. Current VITA sites include schools, community centers, libraries, churches, and human service agencies. Hosting a VITA site at your organization is a great way to offer a new service to your local community! CAHS provides support in the form of training, marketing and technical assistance, and also facilitates VITA coalitions in each community, where local sites can come together to learn from and support one another.
To learn more about how your organization can become a VITA site, please contact Lucille Sclafani, Vita Coordinator, at (860) 951-2212, ext. 230, or firstname.lastname@example.org
About The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
The EITC is widely regarded as the single most effective poverty-reduction program for working families in the United States. Working families with incomes up to $49,000 (depending on household size) qualify for the federal EITC, which may provide a credit of up to $5,657. Each year, over 150,000 Connecticut households in every rural, suburban, and urban community claim the EITC, bringing close to $300 million directly into the pockets of working people. Working families with children and incomes between $12,000 and $18,000 usually benefit the most. A combination of free tax preparation services at a VITA site and the potentially large return from the EITC can really help to boost a family’s tight budget. The EITC can also provide the opportunity for a family to begin saving for the future, paying down debt, or investing in assets such as a home, small business, or higher education.
To find out if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), visit the IRS website by clicking here.
To learn how you can become an advocate for the EITC, visit the National Community Tax Coalition’s website.
The CAHS VITA Campaign is Funded By:
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
United Way of Coastal Fairfield County
Wachovia, a Wells Fargo Company
JP Morgan Chase
People’s United Bank