Free North Tahoe tax prep program brings $250K in refunds | SierraSun.com
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Free North Tahoe tax prep program brings $250K in refunds

Special to the Bonanza
Mike Smith serves as volunteer Site Coordinator for the VITA program.
Courtesy photo |

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The average tax preparation fee for 2014 returns was $273, up 11 percent from two years ago, according to a survey by the National Society of Accountants.

For many households in the North Lake Tahoe Basin, having to pay this amount for tax preparation is beyond their financial ability. That’s where the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA for short, was able to help.

VITA is a national program sponsored by the IRS that provides free preparation of federal and state tax returns for households with income under $53,000.

The goal is to make quality tax preparation services available to low — to moderate-income households so that they claim all of the tax credits they are entitled to and receive the largest refund or lowest tax bill they are legally entitled to, without having to spend limited financial resources on tax preparation fees.

For the third year, Tahoe Family Solutions sponsored a VITA site at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Non-profit Center in Incline Village.

At the completion of the 2014 tax season, a total of 182 federal tax returns were prepared at the Incline Village VITA site — a 28 percent increase over the previous year. Also, 80 state tax returns were prepared which was a 25 percent increase from the prior year.

A total of $251,025 in federal and state tax refunds were claimed on returns prepared at the site — a 22 percent increase over the previous year. Refunds were claimed on 80 percent of federal returns and 74 percent of state returns.

An important goal of the program is to help people claim tax credits that they are entitled to, as this can greatly improve their financial situation. A total of $166,483 in federal and state tax credits were claimed through the VITA site, a 28 percent increase over the previous year.

During the 2015 tax season, seven Certified Tax Preparers and one Greeter/Interpreter contributed a total of 407 volunteer hours over the course of the 28 days on which the site was open. This does not include an estimated 20 hours invested by each volunteer in orientation, training, studying of tax laws and passing IRS tax preparer certification tests.

For information, contact Mike Smith, volunteer Site Coordinator, at 775-830-2050 or msmithtahoe@gmail.com.

This article was submitted by Tahoe Family Solutios, a nonprofit offering low/no cost services to children and families with a mission to provide key resources and enhance skills for families in the Tahoe Basin. Visit tahoefamily.org to learn more.


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