Our free income tax service volunteers filed 282 income tax returns this year despite challenges from the pandemic. The free service assisted residents in receiving $463,432 in total refunds and saved them an estimated total of $42,300 in tax return fees.
This was the 10th year Common Heart has offered free tax services, which are completed by trained and certified volunteers as part of the national Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, program. This year’s service continued a partnership with fellow nonprofit Community Link which provided training and equipment.
Individuals and families with an annual household income of $56,000 or less were eligible for the free assistance. Residents do not have to live in Union County to qualify.
Site Supervisor Bruce Gorrell said he’s very proud of the 9 volunteers who stepped up in a very unusual tax season to serve as many residents as they could. It was important to the volunteer team that the service be open this year because so many struggling neighbors count on them.
“The 2021 tax season was severely affected by the pandemic because of the need to social distance in all aspects… We also lost some preparers because of their understandable caution,” he said. “In a ‘normal’ year we would have up to six preparers available daily. The COVID policy restricted us to two to three per day.”
Common Heart Executive Director Keith Adams said the program has really given a needed boost to many in the community, especially now.
“Our free tax service helps take the stress out of tax time and allows our hard-working neighbors to use the money they save on tax preparation fees for other needs, like food, car repairs, rent, utilities or medical bills,” Adams said. “We serve people from all walks of life – college students, teachers, hair stylists, retail staff, local government employees and retirees.”
Volunteer income tax preparers start training in the fall … if you’d like to help, email Volunteer@CommonHeart.org