It’s officially tax season, but filing can often be overwhelming. In order to alleviate some of the worry about filing correctly, Southwest Oklahoma Community Action Group and the retired and senior volunteer program are offering free help for low to moderate income taxpayers. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program helps those who make $54,000 or less, are disabled, or have limited English abilities.
There are 18 RSVP and seven community volunteers that are certified to provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified taxpayers.
RSVP Director Kelly Baker said, “I strongly believe in the mission and promise of community action to change people’s lives. On a daily basis, I have direct contact with individuals needing all types of services. When the tax season arrives the RSVP, VITA program is prepared to provide free tax services for those who qualify, because many people cannot afford for paid tax service, and that is one reason why VITA volunteers are so important.”
Rick Munoz, a retired U.S. mail carrier and Vietnam Veteran, is one of the RSVP volunteers. “After I retired,” said Munoz, “I had plenty of free time so I became a volunteer. I deliver meals to home-bound residents, tutor English as a second language, and greet VITA clients. It was a great way for me to help others and my community. I love being a volunteer because when I deliver a meal to a home-bound resident, I verify their well-being before saying good-bye.”
RSVP has also partnered with Altus Air Force Base to help military service members, veterans and their families. Several area businesses have also generously sponsored the program. They include Stockman’s Bank, The Towers Apartments, NBC bank, Frazer Bank, Red River Community Credit Union, Advantage Office Products, Lee Office Equipment and the First United Methodist Church of Mangum.
As of yesterday, 243 returns have been e-filed through VITA. The filings have produced earned income tax credits in the amount of $132,700; $357,942 in federal refunds; and $452,584 in state refunds.
For more information, locations and times for VITA services, call 580-482-4141.
Reach Mary O. Esparza, at 580-482-1221, ext.2077