February 14, 2018

VITA program offering free tax preparation services for eligible families

United Way of Greater Lafayette is working to help families that make a household income of $66,000 or less a year prepare and file their taxes for free through sponsoring the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA.

The VITA program began in 2010. Its volunteers have since prepared more than 6,700 tax returns for 3,300 clients and have brought more than $5 million in refunds back to Tippecanoe County. All volunteers are IRS-certified to provide basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.  

Along with educating clients on their tax position and providing tax preparation services, the program also provides students with an opportunity to interact and work with the Greater Lafayette community. The program has a total of 55 student volunteers from Purdue.

“Our program works because we have amazing students that are willing to come help out the community,” says Jordan Szczepanski, VITA site coordinator. “Our volunteers help to improve the lives of people by providing this service to our clients.”  

The program is open to everyone in the eligible income range. Some appointment sessions will be on Purdue’s campus, and those are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 24 and April 7 at Stanley Coulter Hall, Room G073. Appointments also are available at the United Way of Greater Lafayette office, 1114 E. State St., Lafayette, through April 13. To schedule an appointment at either location, call 765-421-6163 or go online.

Those using the service need to bring a Social Security card or copy for themselves, a spouse and any dependents; photo ID; all tax documents; bank routing and account number for a direct deposit refund; and last year’s tax return, if applicable.

“We had a client come in yesterday who got back a substantial amount after we prepared his return,” Szczepanksi says. “That smile on his face after a long day of work put a huge smile on my face, and it’s interactions like this one that keep me coming back to volunteer.” 

For more information, visit https://www.uwlafayette.org/vita-participant.

Writer: Olivia Crouse, ocrouse@purdue.edu 

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