Thursday, December 1, 2011

Howard County Opens VITA Site to Provide Free Income Tax Preparation -- Volunteers needed to help out at VITA site

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman announced today that the County's first Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site will open in January and run throughout the 2012 tax season.

Like other VITA sites across the county, the Howard County site will offer free tax assistance preparation to most taxpayers who earned up to $49,000 in 2011. In addition to free tax return preparation, the site will also offer free electronic filling. Individuals who choose to take advantage of the e-file program will receive their refunds in half-the-time compared to returns filed on paper - even faster, when tax refunds are deposited directly into a bank account.

"Through the opening of this pilot site, we take another step forward to making and keeping all Howard County residents self sufficient," said County Executive Ulman. "Working families who might otherwise pay hundreds of dollars for tax preparation and electronic filing can now use those funds to pay bills, weatherize their homes or save for their futures."

The Howard County VITA site will operate out of the North Laurel Community Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road in Laurel, three days a week from January 18 through April 14: Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments are encouraged and can be scheduled at the start of the New Year by visiting www.howardcountymd.gov/VITA.htm. This year's tax deadline is April 17, 2012.

In preparation for the site's opening, the County is also seeking volunteers to serve as tax preparers, quality reviewers, greeters and office staff. Volunteer tax preparers are trained to help with special credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. Training and certification for volunteer tax preparers are offered for free and sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service; no prior tax preparationn or accounting experience is required. Residents interested in volunteering should contact the site coordinator, Enock Guerrier, by e-mail at vita@howardcountymd.gov or by telephone at 410-313-0386.

For more information, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/VITA.htm.