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VITA Kickoff and EITC Awareness Day, Jan. 25, 2013Federal, state and local officials gathered at Springfield Partners for Community Action to kick off the tax season on Jan. 25, 2013, the National Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day.
"The Earned Income Tax Credit keeps thousands of local households above the poverty line every year," said Paul F. Bailey, Springfield Partners Executive Director. "It's crucial to educate the community about the importance of these credits, because nationally, more than $13 billion in Earned Income Tax Credits go unclaimed each year."
Springfield Partners Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides free tax filing services to nearly 2,000 low- and moderate-income Hampden County residents annually. At the Jan. 25 event, several residents had their tax returns filed by IRS-trained volunteers.
VITA Volunteers will provide free preparation of state and federal tax returns through April 13, 2013, at several convenient area locations. VITA volunteers apply all available tax credits and can e-file with direct deposit, getting people a maximum refund in minimal time. Assistance for limited-English speakers is available. For an appointment, call (413) 263-6500.
"Every year, our VITA program returns about $3 million in tax credits to hardworking residents, and saves residents $460,000 in tax preparation fees," said Bailey.
This year, Springfield Partners is partnering with Valley Opportunity Council (VOC) to expand services, thanks to a grant from the United Way of Pioneer Valley. Residents may call VOC at (413) 612-0206 to make an appointment at VOC offices in Chicopee or Holyoke.
Speakers at the Jan. 25 kickoff event also included:
- Mary Ann Higgins, Regional Administrator, US Dept. of Health & Human Services' Administration for Children and Families
- Gerald Bell, Manager of Community Services Programs, Mass. Dept. of Housing & Community Development
- Joe Diamond, Executive Director, Massachusetts Community Action Association (MASSCAP)
- Margaret Boyle of US Rep. Richard E. Neal's office
- Dora Robinson, President & CEO of United Way of Pioneer Valley
- Steve Huntley, Executive Director of Valley Opportunity Council
Representatives from the IRS; program partners Elms College and Hampden County Sheriff's Office; and Jeremiah Thompson, Regional Director for US Sen. Elizabeth Warren's office, were also in attendance.
VITA eligibility guidelines and local tax filing locations are available here.