Moderate and low income individuals and families can once again have their income tax returns prepared for free by UNC Asheville volunteers as part of the IRS VITA (Voluntary Income Tax Assistance) program. UNC Asheville’s VITA service, now in its ninth year, will be available from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays through April 6 (except for March 16), at the Pack Memorial Library, 67 Haywood Street in Asheville.
Preparation of both federal and state returns is offered. Those seeking preparation assistance should bring photo ID, Social Security cards or equivalent for all taxpayers and dependents, W-2 forms and other relevant documents. For married couples wishing to file joint tax returns, both spouses must be present with photo ID. It is helpful to bring a copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if possible, and a voided check to facilitate direct deposit of tax refunds.
The IRS VITA program offers free income tax preparation for people with incomes under $55,000, the elderly, and people with disabilities or limited proficiency in English. “Unfortunately many low- and middle-income individuals and families miss out on tax credits they are eligible for such as the Earned Income, Education, and Child Tax Credits,” says Elizabeth Porter, UNC Asheville lecturer in economics. “Our team of IRS-certified preparers are specifically focused on ensuring that people get back as many credits as they are eligible for. We also work with individuals and families to help them better understand the tax code and additional ways that they can save even more in 2019.”
UNC Asheville’s student VITA volunteers are trained in protecting confidentiality, and in tax laws and procedures as part of service-learning courses taught by Porter and by UNC Asheville Lecturer in Accounting Carol Hughes. To ensure accuracy, all tax returns are reviewed by specially trained student workers employed as assistant site managers. The students work under direction of Hughes, who is the VITA site manager, with support from Porter and Economics Professor Emeritus Joe Sulock.
For more information about the IRS VITA program, visit https://www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-you-by-volunteers.