Free VITA Sites Available for Taxpayers

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TOPEKA -- With just five weeks remaining of the 2012 tax season, taxpayers are encouraged to utilize free tax sites in March, when the pace is slower than February or April.

The program, VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) is provided by nearly 60 certified volunteers who complete tax returns for low- and moderate-income taxpayers free of charge. The VITA program is funded in part by United Way of Greater Topeka and coordinated through the Asset Building Coalition of Shawnee, K-State Research and Extension. To find a comprehensive list of both VITA and AARP tax sites (AARP sponsors the Tax-Aid program) at Total, there are 10 different tax sites throughout the county.

"The lines at the tax sites diminish in March," said Cindy Evans, county extension agent and chairperson of the Asset Building Coalition of Shawnee County. "It's a great time to complete your 2011 return and also the only time free tax sites will do prior year returns and amended returns."

Filing a tax form, even if not required, could mean additional dollars in the pockets of individuals and families with low incomes. If income is under $32,000, a person may be eligible for Food Sales Tax Credit and/or Homestead Credit.

In addition, many households may qualify for EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit). For low-income families, the EITC can make a significant financial contribution to household income. According to Kansas Action for Children, the EITC lifts more children out of poverty than any other single program, with 90 percent of Kansas EITC dollars going to families with children.

"Don't delay,” said Evans of visiting the free sites and getting tax assistance. “Unlike paid preparers, the free tax assistance sites close on April 17th."

What to Bring to a Site:

· Copy of your 2010 tax return (if you have one)

· Birth dates and verification of social security number for the taxpayer, spouse and any children in the household born before Dec. 21, 2011

· W-2 forms from all 2011 employment

· 1099-G form, if you received unemployment insurance benefits or a state refund in 2011

· All other 1098 and 1099 forms

· Any statements received from a mortgage company for 2011

· Any notices sent to the worker by the IRS in 2011

· Workers with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) should bring the ITIN card sent to them by the IRS. Workers need either an ITIN or a SSN for the Child Tax Credit

· W-2 G Gambling Income

· 2011 Property Tax Form OR name of landlord, address and phone number if claiming the Homestead Credit

· Voided Check or savings account number if choosing direct deposit of a refund. No deposit slips.