Free tax service program returns over $3 million to community

MUSKEGON -- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Services for West Michigan – a coalition of area nonprofit organizations – provided free income tax returns to eligible low- to moderate-income individuals and families this past tax season, resulting in $3,003,767 returned to the community. Volunteers filed a total of 2,911 returns; an increase of 6% over last year’s tax season.

“For some struggling families, these returns can make a huge difference; helping pay overdue utility bills or even putting food on the table,” said Goodwill Tax Program Coordinator Carl Lewis.

Participating volunteers were required to complete an IRS tax law training program and pass a certification test. This year the coalition reached out to Newaygo, Oceana, Ottawa and Muskegon counties, and offered returns at seven different community sites.

“We sincerely thank all of our dedicated volunteers for their incredible service to the community,” Lewis said. “We are also grateful to our funding partners and community collaborators that make the program possible.”

In addition to Goodwill Industries of West Michigan, participating agencies and program partnerships that make up VITA Services for West Michigan include: Asset Building Coalition of West Michigan, Baker College of Muskegon, Community enCompass, CALL 2-1-1, TrueNorth Community Services, Hart Area City Hall, Holton Public Library, WE CAN! Newaygo County, Grand Haven Neighborhood Housing Services, Tanglewood Park, and My Free Taxes.

Funding partners that supported this year’s tax preparation efforts included: Goodwill Industries of West Michigan, the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, Fremont Area Community Foundation, Comerica Bank, Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, the Internal Revenue Service, and United Way of the Lakeshore.

Goodwill Industries of West Michigan is currently seeking volunteer tax preparers for next season.

If you are interested in learning more about the program or volunteering in one of the various volunteer positions associated with VITA, please contact Goodwill Tax Program Coordinator Carl Lewis at (231) 722-7871 x256 or clewis@goodwillwm.org.

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