Free tax prep service hopes to save $45,000 in fees for area residents
Community Action Partnership of Staunton, Augusta and Waynesboro (CAPSAW) announced an expansion of its free tax preparation services. CAPSAW Coordinator Anna Leavitt explained that nationwide approximately 25 percent of eligible taxpayers are not claiming the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits.
“This leaves literally millions upon millions of unclaimed dollars. When those dollars are combined with paying for tax preparation services, the burden on local working families is staggering,” Leavitt said.
CAPSAW is in its third season of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. Deb Koons, EITC coordinator for CAPSAW, explained that training materials are provided by the IRS and volunteers are able to be certified and provide free services.
“Some of our clients literally cannot believe the service is free. Our volunteers saved tax payers over nearly $30,000 in preparation fees last year and we are hoping to save even more this year. Money that will likely be spent in our community,” Koons said.
Leavitt adds that this year VITA sites will also offer financial education services through a partnership with the United Way of Greater Augusta and the Extension Office.
Mary Baldwin students, meeting the College’s strategic Quality Enhancement Plan on learning for civic engagement, will help staff the VITA sites as well as trained community members. Leavitt and Koons say that eligibility requirements have expanded.
“If your return will involve less than $51,000 in earned income, we can probably file both your federal and state forms for free.” Koons explained. “Why pay someone for a service we can provide for free?”
Each site will be open once a week from Feb. 5-April 11. Call 540-221-1654 to make an appointment.