“It’s important because they don’t have to go to a tax service and pay $100,” she said.
When people are scraping for funds — In Iowa, 22 percent of working families did not earn enough to meet basic needs, she said — an extra $100 can seem out of reach. Skipping tax preparation, or rushing through it by themselves, may deprive a family of tax credits they are entitled too. VITA will help them get back the money they paid in over the amount they needed to pay.
“That’s the goal, maximizing benefits to our clients and to our community, but not everybody is going to qualify for [a refund],” Davis said.
VITA tax preparers receive certification online, using IRS training materials. Certification is free, Davis said, and can be completed from home.
Wilson acknowledged it did take a bit of work.
“For me, it took 30 to 40 hours, but like I said, I had no financial background. I was really starting from square one, and I found it doable,” she said.
The program is designed to teach basic tax preparation: For Wapello County’s complex income tax filers, VITA may recommend a different route.
Call the United Way of Wapello County at 641-682-1264.
— To follow reporter Mark Newman on Twitter, see @CourierMark