Story in Brief
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. Virtual VITA was made available to UGA Extension agents across the state with funds from a UGA Extension Innovation Grant. The Elbert County Family and Consumer Sciences agent, UGA teaching and research faculty and UGA students became trained and certified to process taxes through VITA for the Internal Revenue Service. Virtual VITA requires one meeting with clients to gather needed documents and complete needed IRS forms and a second meeting to review their tax return virtually with one of the UGA students who helped prepare the tax returns on campus. Free tax assistance and e-filing for basic returns was offered by appointment at the Elbert County Extension office. The agent and campus volunteers completed 26 returns with Federal refunds totaling $27,318 and state refunds totaling $4,841. Over $12,721 of the total refunds were from Earned Income Tax Credits and an additional $10,540 from Child Tax Credits or credit for other dependents. More than $7,800 was saved in tax preparation fees by Elbert County tax filers.