Area residents who make less than $54,000 or who are disabled or elderly will have the opportunity to get free, Internal Revenue Service-approved assistance with preparing and filing their federal income tax returns this year, thanks to a program sponsored by the Babson Center for Global Commerce at the University of the South.
Residents of Franklin, Grundy, and Marion counties are all eligible for the free service. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Monteagle and Otey Parish Church in Sewanee.
The sessions at Holy Comforter will be Tuesdays from 5 PM to 7 PM and Sunday from noon until 5 PM, starting on January 31. Tax preparation will be available at the parish hall at Otey Parish Church in Sewanee on Monday, January 25 from 4 pm to 7pm. If there is sufficient interest, additional sessions may be scheduled.
The VITA program will not operate on March 13, 15 or 20. The deadline for filing income tax returns is April 15.
The VITA volunteers, who include University students and community members, have received IRS-approved training and will help taxpayers fill out their returns via computer and file them electronically with the IRS. With electronic filing, tax refunds can be processed more rapidly and refunds can be deposited electronically into taxpayers’ bank accounts.
The IRS anticipates that about 70 percent of taxpayers will be eligible for tax refunds this year. In 2015, the national average refund was $2,797. Last year, more than 85 people took advantage of the VITA service locally, and they collected refunds of more than $20,000. The volunteers are trained to ensure that filers get benefits to which they are entitled including Earned Income Tax Credits.
People wanting to take advantage of this free service should being with them the following items:
• Proof of identification (photo ID) for each filer.
• Social Security Cards (if return is filed jointly, all cards must be available, and both individuals must be present to sign the return).
• Filers without Social Security cards must bring an IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN ) assignment letter.
• Wage and earning statements (W-2, 1099, etc.).
• Dividend and interest statements.
• Birth dates of the filer(s), spouse and dependents.
• Banking account and routing numbers for direct deposit, which can be found on a blank check.
This service is completely free of any expense to the taxpayer. in 2015, the local VITA program was selected for a random site audit, and the program received a perfect score from the IRS.
For more information about the schedule or other questions, contact the program director, Ben Carstarphen via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-704-675-1025.