United Way kicks off VITA Tax return program

Submitted Photo United Way staffer and VITA Volunteer Kaitlin Donohoe (right) goes over VITA material and resources with United Way Intern Emily Schepisi (left).

Tax season has officially begun, meaning thousands of hard working men and women throughout our region can complete their tax return and bring home some of their hard earned money via income tax refunds. Tax payers have almost countless options of software, tax professionals, accounting firms, and web based programs, in addition to the DIY method.

The United Way of Northern Chautauqua County is once again hosting a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Center at its office on Central Avenue, as well as at remote sites throughout our community. VITA is an IRS program which trains volunteers on current tax law and provides a service, which allows those volunteers to complete returns for members of our community at no charge. Community volunteers will once again team up with students and faculty from SUNY Fredonia to offer the service at the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator in Dunkirk. UWNCC Executive Director Adam Dolce stated, “SUNY and our community volunteers are a critical partner in our VITA program. The assistance provided by Dr. Hall, our volunteers, and the students that she has trained is invaluable and ensures that our neighbors keep more of their money in their pocket, to hopefully see it spent here in our community and at local businesses.”

United Way has been the area’s largest provider of VITA for, at least, 15 years. In that time VITA volunteers have secured refunds totaling well over $15,000,000, while averaging about $1,000,000 per year. The program offers free tax help to people who generally make $55,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. In addition to the normal office hours at the United Way office and Technology Incubator, one time, remote hours will be held at Silver Creek High School, the Patterson Library, Forestville High School, and the Stockton Library.

To make an appointment at the United Way office, Technology Incubator, or one of the remote sites call 2-1-1. All appointments will be made through the 2-1-1 number, and no appointments can be accepted by calling the office or locations. Walk-ins may not be seen, due to the high demand and priority given to customers with appointments.

The United Way of Northern Chautauqua County’s mission is to empower our local community through education, financial stability and health.  One in three of our neighbors have been impacted by local outcome based programming, funded by strategic investments of $ 4,010,150 since 1999.  The United Way is located at 626 Central Avenue, Dunkirk. Visit us on the web at www.unitedwayncc.org; follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.