DANBURY, Conn. — "There are many people out there earning $30,000 a year or less who pay $150 to $200 to get their income taxes filed when they can get it done for free." That was the message from coordinator Kent Rohrer at a press conference Wednesday to kick off the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance campaign at City Hall in Danbury.
“They keep paying this every year because they don’t know about this free program,” Rohrer said. “I consider this a crime.”
VITA is an IRS-sponsored program in which trained volunteers prepare and file state and federal tax returns for low- to moderate-income families for free. Families with an income of $54,000 or less in 2016 may qualify for the free services.
Last year in Danbury, trained VITA volunteers prepared nearly 500 tax returns, securing $709,058 total in federal refunds to local families.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said he is grateful to everyone involved with VITA. “It does make a difference. Thank you for what you do,” he said.
Jim Horan, chief executive officer with the Connecticut Association for Human Services, said his group coordinated 41 VITA sites last year in the state.
"We did 14,000 returns and $23 million in federal refunds and credits. It saved tax filers $2 million," he said. CAHS is coordinating 52 sites across the state this year, Horan said.
Rohrer said people who want tax help should call as soon as possible. “We are already booking deep into March," he said. "We are trying to add more capacity as we go."
Isabel Almeida, executive vice president of community development at the United Way of Western Connecticut, said the service can benefit the population known as ALICE, or Asset Limited Income Constrained and Employed.
"The United Way across the state is very focused on the ALICE population. Our entire mission is to ensure that these hard working and struggling households achieve financial stability and prosperity," she said.
The United Way works to ensure that the ALICE population can afford "to pay for critical needs in their household budget, including housing and childcare and transportation and food," she said.
To learn more about Danbury VITA, residents can call Lucille Vaughan at 860-951-2212, ext. 230 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.