Free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program moves online for 2021; anyone with an income of less than $56,844 is eligible for program
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 26, 2021 — COVID-19 has made just about everything a bit more difficult, even filing taxes. Thankfully, Temple University’s Fox School of Business can help.
For the 14th-consecutive year, the school will again offer its free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The program, which is for those with low-to-moderate incomes, is open to any family, individual or student who makes less than $56,844 annually.
Due to the pandemic, this year’s program will be offered virtually. Participants who do not have Internet access also have the opportunity to mail all of the necessary documents to VITA program administrators for preparation.
“Now, more than ever, this program is of the utmost importance,” says Steve Balsam, a professor of accounting and the coordinator of Temple’s VITA program. “Since the start of the pandemic, it has been much more challenging for folks to get access to community services and resources, so we’re happy to take the needed steps to ensure that this one service that the community can continue to rely on.”
Since its inception, the VITA program has claimed more than $3 million in federal and state tax refunds for its clients. The expertise and guidance that the program offers has also always been provided at no expense to the individuals and families seeking assistance.
This year, due to the pandemic, the program has partnered with Code for America, which has provided access to a secure, IRS approved, internet platform where participants can fill out an intake form and upload documents. The form can be accessed here.
There are also two different ways for participants without internet access to participate in the program. The first option is for clients to mail VITA the documents listed here to P.O. Box 1031, Springhouse, PA 19477. VITA will contact participants to confirm receipt of the documents. If a participant does not hear from them after one week has passed, they may contact 215-326-9519 or email [click-for-email].
The second option uses the services of VITA affiliate the Community Development Corporation (CDC) of Willow Grove, which, starting Saturday, Feb. 6, will allow clients to drop-off their documents, which must include an intake form (IRS form 13614-C). They will accept drop-offs at the following locations on the following days and times:
Community Development Corporation, 210 Cedar Avenue, Willow Grove, PA
- Tuesdays, 4 to 7 p.m.
- Thursdays, 4 to 7 p.m.
- Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Community Development Corporation, 1840 County Line Road, Suite 212, Huntingdon Valley, PA
- Mondays, 4 to 7 p.m.
- Wednesdays, 4 to 7 p.m.
- Fridays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
To qualify for VITA program services, clients must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, have an income of less than $56,844, not operate a business and not own rental property.
The majority of the tax returns are prepared by Temple University students, who work alongside Balsam. According to Balsam, it’s a way for students to give back, which is especially important now.
“The pandemic has impacted so many people in so many ways. Some of the folks who have most been impacted are those with lower incomes. The last thing they need to worry about right now is potential paying $100 or more out of pocket to have their tax return prepared. That’s why this program is so important,” Balsam says.
For additional information about VITA 2021, contact 215-326-9519 or [click-for-email].
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