Volunteers at Genesee Community College will once again provide free income-tax preparation services for the 2011 tax season.
This is made possible through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Genesee County Department of Social Services is coordinating with volunteers at the college to provide appointment-based services (at DSS) as well as several walk-in service days at the Batavia campus.
The walk-in service days are from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 24 and Thursday, April 7 in T205. Preparation is also being done on Tuesdays and Thursdays (other than the campus session days) from 5 to 8 p.m. beginning Feb. 10 at the Department of Social Services office at 5130 E. Main St., Batavia.
An appointment is needed if clients are planning on going to the DSS office. Community members can call Betty at 344-2580, ext. 6552 to schedule an appointment.
The VITA program offers free tax preparation to low- to moderate-income households (generally, $49,000 and below). Certified volunteers sponsored by various organizations receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country.
VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other convenient locations. Most locations also offer free electronic filing.
Genesee Community College is one of several local community groups to provide these tax services. Genesee's volunteers consist of faculty, staff and current students. They have been certified and trained by the IRS to prepare the tax returns. The tax returns are prepared by the certified volunteers with the IRS approved "Taxwise" program, an online program that the preparers use.
Both Federal and State returns are filed. The client leaves with a copy of the returns that have been prepared. Mark Castiglione from the Department of Social Services is the site coordinator.
Under the leadership of Cheryl Corke, assistant professor of Accounting at Genesee and a Certified Public Accountant, the student and faculty volunteers have undergone rigorous online training to be able to use the IRS computer software.
In addition to the certified faculty members, there are a number of accounting students and college staff who have been active and will assist in the program.
"I want to personally thank all of those who have been involved in this program," Corke said. "We have several certified preparers from GCC including faculty and students and three people certified from DSS. Several others have put time and effort into this endeavor.
"A special thank you to Amy Conley, instructor of Accounting, who has worked with our income tax course students to become certified intermediate preparers. Thanks to the other students and staff who have given their time learning tax law and assisting with the program."
The 2010 income tax season was the inaugural year GCC participated in VITA. In 2010, 102 Federal and NYS income tax returns were prepared. The clients received $102,588 in Federal income tax refunds (including $19,058 in Federal earned income tax credits, $8,826 in child tax credits and $10,454 in education tax credits).
The VITA program is a free service for clients with basic returns (no schedule Cs, Ds and no businesses) and with a combined income of $49,000 or less.
There will be a welcome table with a checklist of all the materials people need to have prior to preparation services (Social Security cards for all individuals, including dependents, all W-2s and 1099s, etc., and proof of identity such as driver's license).
For more information please contact Cheryl Corke at 343-0055, ext. 6323, or at <http://[email protected]>.