If you earned less than $52,427 last year, you might qualify for an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)—and thanks to an annual community volunteer effort, and you don’t have to pay to file your tax returns.
Mayor Toni Harp announced Wednesday that wage-earners meeting that threshold can visit any one of 14 IRS-certified Connecticut Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites to have their tax returns prepared at no cost.
“Personal income tax returns cannot to be taken lightly, and tax return forms are often confusing and challenging for people,” Harp said. “So the volunteer assistance program we launch today has become a useful tool for many.”
The city’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Coalition includes representatives from the United Way and the Internal Revenue Service. The coalition provides tax preparation guidance, including advice about the state’s EITC, and suggestions about how to manage any anticipated income tax refund.
James Horan, executive director of the Connecticut Association for Human Resources (pictured), called VITA sites a good alternative for people who often are lured into high interest short-term loans by tax preparation companies that promised “rapid refunds.”
The federal government cracked down on such products, but companies are finding ways around them. Horan said companies like Walmart are offering its customers the chance to get their tax refunds in cash in hopes that people will spend their money in the store.
Harp said another advantage of using one of the city’s VITA sites is that the preparers will help residents figure out whether they qualify for state and federal Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC). That not only puts money back in the pockets of working families, Harp said; it “helps level the playing field and keeps capital circulating throughout our local economy.”
Nick DeFiesta (pictured), a VITA volunteer and policy analyst for Connecticut Voices for Children, said that when it comes to the state’s EITC, filers receiving an average of $500 from the government. That can make the difference between keeping a car running for some families, and paying utilities for others. According to data from tax year 2012, 11,605 people in New Haven claimed nearly $7.8 million in EITC.
Ron Peruzzi, senior tax consultant for the IRS (pictured), said that slightly more than, 14,000 New Haven residents qualified for a federal EITC, and on average received a $3,000 credit. He said the VITA sites can be especially helpful in advising people on how to manage large tax refunds.
Harp said at two public library branches, volunteers are available for regular consultation. That service has been so popular that there is a special waiting place with extra chairs for VITA clients.
If you are interested in preparing your own taxes visit myfreetaxes.com, but if you want to do them in person visit any one of these sites:
Believe in Me Empowerment Corp.
423 Dixwell Ave.
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
(Other days call for appointment: 203-776-2771)
Clemente Leadership Academy
360 Columbus Ave.
Monday, Wednesday and Thursday: 6 p.m to 8:30 p.m.
Columbus Family Academy
255 Blatchley Ave.
Tuesday and Thursday: 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Community Action Agency of New Haven
419 Whalley Ave.
Monday: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. by appointment only
Monday: 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. walk-ins accepted, appointments preferred
Wednesday: 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. walk-ins accepted, appointments preferred
Call 203-859-6635 to schedule.
Elm Haven Community Center
230 Ashmun St.
Wednesday: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Emanuel Lutheran Church
280 Humphrey St.
Sun: noon to 4 p.m.
Evergreen AAA VITA
1138 Whalley Ave.
Monday-Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Gateway Community College
(For students and alumni only)
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
New Financial Life
224-226 Dixwell Ave.
Thursday: 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
New Haven Free Public Library - Downtown
133 Elm St.
Monday-Thursday: 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m
Friday: 11 a.m to 4:30 p.m.
New Haven Public Library - Wilson Branch
303 Washington Ave.
Tuesday: 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
258 Grand Ave., 2nd Floor
Monday: 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Southern Connecticut State University
501 Crescent St.
Thursday: 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Yale-New Haven Hospital
(This location is for YNNH employees only. Check with HR for hours.)