Diann Douglas: Guest Columnist
For the sixth year, Madison County Extension Office will be hosting an IRS Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. Over forty years ago, VITA began training volunteers to process tax returns for low and moderate-income people. What started as a small opportunity for college students to gain work skills has expanded into a national program, utilizing volunteers from diverse background and experiences.
Each year, volunteers receive training from the IRS to help prepare tax returns in communities across America. Many collaborations and partnerships have developed to deliver this service. In some communities across the Big Bend, VITA sites are located in libraries and community centers. Since this volunteer effort fits well with our family financial management programs, the University of Florida Extension Service has worked with VITA to facilitate sites across rural north Florida communities.
This year, Madison County Extension is again participating in the VITA program. Our local volunteers have completed training, passed certification tests each year and volunteer time preparing income tax returns. Interested residents can call the Extension Office to set up an appointment time. While some tax sites offer a walk-in service, we schedule appointments so consumers are not waiting for any length of time. Hours will be available Monday through Saturday during the tax season.
Individuals and families with gross incomes of $63,000.00 or less qualify for the free tax service. Participants will need to bring all tax information, social security cards and a photo ID. Upon arrival, you will be asked to fill out an interview questionnaire which helps guide the tax volunteer through the return process.
VITA helps identify tax credits and deductions that residents are eligible to receive which sometimes increases the tax return. Returns are e-filed and clients can select to have their returns direct deposited into a personal checking or savings account. The Extension Office will start doing tax returns Friday, Feb. 3. If you are interested in this free service, call the Extension Office at (850) 973-4138 to make an appointment.
The University of Florida Extension/IFAS Extension – Madison County is an Equal Employment Opportunity Institution.