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Free tax service program returns more than $3 million to community

MUSKEGON – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Services for West Michigan – a coalition of area nonprofit organizations led by Goodwill Industries – provided free income tax returns for eligible low- to moderate-income individuals and families this past tax season. Trained and IRS-certified volunteers processed 2,791 returns resulting in $3.4 million to the West Michigan community.

This year the program received a boost in volunteers thanks to a generous $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County that paid stipends to college students who participated in the program. 

“We are grateful for our partnership with Muskegon Community College in helping us provide students with real-life community work experience,” said Goodwill Tax Program Coordinator Carl Lewis. “We hope to connect with more local colleges in recruiting more students to volunteer. Learning how to do taxes is a worthwhile, life-long skill.”

The program served residents of Newaygo, Oceana, Ottawa, and Muskegon counties with volunteers processing returns at six convenient tax sites, and one “drop and go” site.

“We sincerely thank our dedicated volunteers, our funding partners, and the many community collaborators that make the program possible,” Lewis said.

In addition to Goodwill Industries of West Michigan, participating program partners that make up VITA Services for West Michigan include: Baker College of Muskegon, United Way of the Lakeshore, Sacred Suds/Community enCompass, TrueNorth Community Services, Hart City Hall, Tanglewood Park, and My Free Taxes.

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

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!
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 x1071 or clewis@goodwillwm.org.

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