VITA tax sessions take sting out of tax preparation
February 24, 2015
Tax season can be a confusing time for people.
It’s not only about gathering all the important documents, but filling out the appropriate forms and finding all the applicable tax credits.
Sure, there are many who go to their CPAs or companies such as Liberty or H & R Block, but that may cost more than some families can afford.
To take the sting out of tax preparation, the Internal Revenue Service offers a free tax assistance program.
Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is a free service offered to low-income families in rural Utah, said Susan Haws, associate professor for family and consumer science at Utah State University extension in Coalville.
"It’s a volunteer group of people who have been trained by the IRS to do tax preparations," Haws told The Park Record. "Low-income families are defined as anyone who makes less than $53,000 a year. They qualify for Vita services."
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The USU Extension at 45 E 100 North in Coalville, and the Summit County Library Kamas Branch, 110 N. Main St. in Kamas, offers VITA.
In Coalville, VITA is done online through Skype, according to Haws.
"The volunteer and family will communicate via computer screen and go through the tax documents step by step and make sure all the information that is needed is put in the proper boxes," she said. "The volunteer will also go over all the tax credits that are available."
Families can dial 211 to see if they qualify for VITA, Haws said.
"That’s how they can make their appointments, as well," she explained. "The sessions in Coalville are held every Tuesday from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. through March 24."
Families can also call the USU Extension in Coalville at 435-336-3218 to schedule a session.
"We offer this program to anyone who lives in Summit County, but our offices are stationed in Coalville," Haws said.
The benefit of scheduling a VITA session is that all the paperwork will be double checked.
"One volunteer will prepare the tax documents and then a quality-control volunteer will go over the documents to see if they have been prepared properly," Haws said. "After that, VITA will submit the papers electronically and copies of the papers will be mailed to the families’ homes so they can mail them off themselves.
"This is a great because the families that use VITA get quality service," she said. "We use secured websites to ensure privacy. It’s really convenient for these families. It’s quick, easy and safe. And we hope people will take advantage of this service."
The VITA sessions in Kamas are a little different, said Summit County Library Kamas Branch clerk Liz Gabbitas.
"VITA volunteers prepare the documents in person at the library," Gabbitas said. "Our schedule will run through April 15."
Hourly sessions in Kamas will be held every Thursday at 5 p.m. until 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. and can be made by calling 435-783-3190.
"People can just call the library to schedule an appointment," Gabbitas said. "Once they do, the volunteer will give a reminder call before the appointment and then meet with the family in a private room at the library. We are happy to offer this assistance to our country residents."
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