Households Which Earned $54,000 or Less Can File Taxes for FREE
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program helps households struggling to make ends meet.
On Tuesday, January 23, 2018, at LifeBridge Community Services in Bridgeport, at South Norwalk Library, members of the Greater Bridgeport / Norwalk Family Economic Security Coalition, coordinated by the Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS), kicked-off the start of the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) season. VITA is a program sponsored by the IRS, where trained volunteers prepare and file state and federal returns for low-moderate income families for free. Families who had an income of $54,000 or less in 2017 may qualify for free tax preparation services.
Last year, trained VITA volunteers in Bridgeport prepared 3,387 tax returns, returning $5,486,373 in state and federal refunds to local families including $1,824,826 in federal Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) which may have otherwise gone unclaimed. The Connecticut EITC provides an additional credit for working families which is of the federal EITC. This tax credit helps low-moderate income working families with children have more money for monthly bills, pay off debt and to save for emergencies.
The IRS wants to remind taxpayers that the PATH Act law requires the IRS to hold refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until February 15. In addition, the IRS wants taxpayers to be aware it will take several days for these refunds to be releases and processed through financial institutions. Factoring in weekends and the President’s Day holiday, the IRS cautions that many affected taxpayers may not have access to their refunds until the week of February 27.
“We are pleased to be able to offer families and individuals who qualify, free tax preparation and filing.” said Jim Horan, Chief Executive Officer of CAHS, an organization that helps to coordinate the VITA campaign across the state. “This is an important service and offers a significant savings to those who are challenged by the extra expense of tax season. In addition to free tax services, CAHS also offers educational programs that help build long-lasting financial stability.”
“VITA provides much needed free tax advice and guidance to people who cannot afford tax accountants or are confused by our complex tax rules. Too many people fail to receive refunds or the earned income tax credit that are owed to them- leaving on the table billions of often critical hard earned dollars.” stated U.S. Senator, Richard Blumenthal.
Mayor Rilling stated, “I strongly support this program, and want to encourage Norwalk residents to use this valuable service. I also want to thank the VITA staff and dedicated local volunteers who make it possible for low-income families to benefit from accessing their tax credits.”
Residents can call 2-1-1 or visit www.211ct.org, the United Way’s free information hotline to find our more information or to locate the closest location. For more information about federal or state EITC eligibility, residents can visit www.irs.gov or www.ct.gov/drs/eitc.
“United Way recognizes that many of our neighbors struggle to make ends meet. They are challenged to pay basic bills while saving for emergencies and other needs,” noted Cathy DeCesare, Senior Vice President, United Way of Coastal Fairfield County. Nearly 1 in 4 families are challenged to pay for food, housing, transportation, healthcare and childcare. We believe it is important to support the VITA free tax preparation program which provides the opportunity for working families to realize and secure the tax credits and refunds they are entitled to. In addition those who earned $66,000 or less in 2017 may choose to use MyFreeTaxes.com a free online tax preparation website offered by United Way. The site provides filers with assistance through email and online chat and can be used on a mobile device. This is a great tool for students and new graduates to manage their taxes”
“The City fully supports VITA’s superlative efforts to help residents to understand tax issues and to help underserved citizens file their taxes in the easiest most affordable manner.” noted City of Bridgeport, Director of Finance, Ken Flatto.
To help families trying to save their tax refund dollars for a rainy day or unforeseen expenses, CAHS encourages income tax filers at VITA sites to direct deposit their federal and state refunds into both checking and savings accounts.
“LifeBridge Community Services is honored to host the 2018 VITA Kick-off event. LifeBridge has been a VITA site for more than 20 years and is a strong supporter of both the VITA program and the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits. The VITA program is a part of the LifeBridge Economic Empowerment Center which offers comprehensive and integrated education and services to help individuals and families acquire the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to achieve financial stability and greater economic self-sufficiency.” stated Andrew Geisert the Director of Economic Empowerment.
This year’s VITA campaign is made possible through the generous support of the following funders: Internal Revenue Services, United Way of Coastal Fairfield County, Wells Fargo, Citi, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, People’s United Bank Foundation, Near & Far Aid, and Signature Bank Foundation.
About the Connecticut Association for Human Services
The Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS), a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, uniquely combines outreach into working poor communities at the neighborhood level with broad-based policy work at the state and federal level. Founded in 1910, CAHS is focused on helping families and children build the skills and assets they need for lasting economic success, strengthening Connecticut’s economy, and improving its workforce. In addition to advocacy and outreach, CAHS publishes consumer guides, policy briefs, and KIDS COUNT, a highly-regarded data and policy book supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. For more about CAHS, please visit www.cahs.org.
About United Way of Coastal Fairfield County
United Way of Coastal Fairfield County’s mission is: “Together, we mobilize our communities to improve people’s lives”. Our vision is that all at-risk children in Coastal Fairfield County are successful in school and prepared for success in life. United Way of Coastal Fairfield County serves the towns of Bridgeport, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport and Wilton. Find out more at our website at www.unitedwaycfc.org, and follow us on social media @UWCFC.VITA Locations in Bridgeport (and surrounding areas)
- BICC Center
- Burroughs Community Center
- Calvary Temple Christian Center
- Career Resources
- Fairfield Public Library
- Family & Children’s Agency
- Franklin School- Stratford
- LifeBridge Community Services
- Norwalk Community College
- Norwalk City Hall
- Norwalk Main Library
- Norwalk Senior Center
- South Norwalk Library
- Southend Community Center- Stratford
For more information about VITA locations or what to bring to a VITA appointment visit cahs.org/VITA
Click here for a photo gallery of the events.