VITA Coalition Increases Tax Returns for Community

MUSKEGON -- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Services for West Michigan – a coalition of fifteen area nonprofit organizations – teamed up once again this year to provide free income tax preparation services for low- to moderate-income individuals and families eligible for significant state and federal tax credits such as Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Michigan Property Homestead Property Tax Credit.

This year VITA volunteers prepared 2,381 federal and state tax returns for individuals and families returning $1,466,136 to the community. This compares to the coalition’s 750 total 2010 tax returns filed and $820,000 of returned dollars last year.

A wide range of dates, times, and locations were offered to filers February through April 2012 including two, all-day “Super Saturdays” held at Goodwill’s Workforce Development Center in Muskegon. This year, the coalition expanded its reach beyond Muskegon County to also include Newaygo, Oceana, and Lake counties.

Participating agencies that make up the coalition include: Goodwill Industries of West Michigan, Muskegon-Oceana Community Action Partnership (MOCAP), Community enCompass, CALL 2-1-1, Love INC, TrueNorth Community Services, Baldwin Family Health Care, United Way of the Lakeshore, Community Coordinating Council, Volunteer Center of West Michigan, Internal Revenue Service – SPEC, Oceana County MSU Extension (Hart), Hart Area District Library, Hesperia Community Library, and The Stream (Newaygo.)

To support the VITA program operations, grant funding was also received from the IRS, the National Community Tax Coalition, the Julia Hackly Advisory Committee of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the Fremont Area Community Foundation, and the Oceana County Community Foundation.

Thirty-five volunteers generously donated their time to provide free tax preparation services at 13 locations in Muskegon and surrounding counties. Volunteers were required to complete an intensive IRS training program and pass a certification test.

“Volunteers are key,” said Goodwill Prosperity Center Manager Jane Drake. “The more volunteers we have, the more people we can serve.”

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