COLUMBUS, Ohio– The Internal Revenue Service recently recognized 25 Ross County residents for providing free tax assistance to local taxpayers as part of the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
Through the VITA program, volunteers provide free tax assistance to taxpayers whose incomes are generally $49,000 and below and who cannot prepare their own returns. Volunteer return preparers sponsored by various organizations are IRS-certified to help prepare basic returns and help eligible taxpayers claim valuable credits. One such credit is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable federal income tax credit for low- to moderate-income working individuals and families. Most VITA locations offer electronic filing (e-filing).
VITA sites throughout Ross County were managed by members of the Ross County EITC Coalition, which includes coalition partners United Way of Ross County, Ross County Job & Family Services, Ross County Community Action, and Southeastern Ohio Legal Services.
The coalition reported that federal income tax returns for more than 850 area residents were prepared and transmitted. Ross County VITA volunteers helped area taxpayers claim approximately $1.6 million in tax refunds and credits — an amount that includes about $566,600 of federal funds returned to area residents in the form of EITC-generated refunds.
Traci Harris, Don Huhman, James Ford, Luke Feeney and Napoleon Cross served as coordinators for Ross County’s 13 VITA sites. Others who contributed their time, talents and resources include Brenda Arledge, Dave Wagner, Diane Diekroger, Dick Schwartz, Doug Wilson, Glenda Overly, Josh Goodwin, Kathy Murphy, Ken McCall, Kimberly Baker, Mary Elsass, Melody Moore, Rhonda Pendleton, Rich Games, Robin Holland, Shirley Kirksey-Carpenter, Wayne Holland, Stephanie Mathers and Vannessa Smith. Arledge was noted for preparing the largest number of returns; Kirksey-Carpenter volunteered the most hours; Harris received a special mention for her detailed knowledge of the VITA program.
“Financial stability begins with maximizing assets,” stated Mary Elsass, the executive director for United Way of Ross County. Elsass noted that Ross County EITC Coalition services, which helped eligible area taxpayers claim tax credits to minimize tax liability, also included financial planning and asset building.
“You have some very moving experiences coming out of this. It’s helping a lot of people who deserve it,” Elsass said.
Shelley Langhirt, Senior Stakeholder Relationship Tax Consultant for the IRS’ Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication office based in Columbus, thanked the VITA site coordinators and their teams of VITA volunteers for their dedicated efforts to assist Ross County taxpayers.
“Everything you do – we appreciate it greatly,” Langhirt told the volunteers at the recognition event. “You all did an amazing job.”
The IRS thanks The Ross County EITC Coalition, coalition partner organizations, volunteers and VITA site hosts for their invaluable assistance to Ross County taxpayers through the VITA program.