If you’re like me, the April 15 tax deadline can raise a lot of different emotions: happiness about getting a refund, anger about owing money to the IRS and uncertainty over completing tax forms. Even with help, filing a tax return can be a daunting task. You’re always worried you might make a mistake and potentially face an audit from the IRS.
That’s how it feels to Norma, a single mother with one daughter who works 2 part-time jobs in office administration. Six years ago she made a mistake on her tax return that required her to pay back part of her state refund. In the past Norma always prepared her own return, but making the mistake took her confidence away. She searched for somewhere to go for help and found out about the MetroCASH VITA program at United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg.
MetroCASH is a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program that provides free tax preparation assistance to low-to-moderate income families and individuals earning less than $54,000 in household income. The program is supported by IRS trained and certified volunteers to ensure families and individuals receive tax credits they qualify for including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), developed to increase financial stability among working taxpayers. The program also promotes financial literacy guidance and education through CASH Coaches that connect tax customers with important financial resources in their communities.
Through the VITA program Norma received assistance preparing her return. She also gained access to a program called MyFreeTaxes, and can now file her own taxes at a VITA site where she has support from an IRS-certified VITA Volunteer in case she runs into trouble. Norma says she plans to keep coming back to the VITA site to use MyFreeTaxes because it’s so easy to use and because she enjoys the interaction with the VITA volunteers.
More than 138,000 people live in poverty in the Richmond region. Visiting one of the 13 MetroCASH VITA sites and avoiding costly tax preparation fees can help a family, like Norma’s, save money to pay an electric bill, buy food, or save for an emergency. Visit Metrocash.org learn more about the program. File your own taxes here.