The CA$H Coalition’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program Now Accepting Virtual Appointments
Income eligible individuals in the Capital Region can file their taxes for free with the help of an IRS-certified volunteer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 29, 2021
Albany, NY - The CA$H Coalition of the Greater Capital Region is a collaborative of dozens of regional non-profit organizations dedicated to increasing individuals’ and families’ financial security and building greater financial inclusion in the Capital Region through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program.
Each year, the VITA program helps thousands of individuals prepare and file their taxes for free, saving filers millions in preparation fees and returning millions to the Capital Region economy. During tax season, the CA$H Coalition operates tax preparation sites in Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady and Schoharie Counties. At each site, IRS-certified VITA volunteers prepare and electronically file federal and New York State tax returns at no cost for income-eligible filers. The CA$H Coalition also provides information about debt management, savings programs, money management, job training and more.
VITA volunteers are trained to ask the needed questions to find out if individuals qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other refundable credits. The IRS estimates that only four out of five workers claim the EITC they earned, leaving billions of dollars on the table each year.
“The Earned Income Tax Credit is repeatedly cited as one of the most effective tools for lifting working families out of poverty,” said Peter Gannon, President & CEO at United Way of the Greater Capital Region. “The VITA program puts this money directly back into the pockets of our community members and they can use that income boost for basic needs like reliable transportation to work, childcare, groceries or other bills.”
In the past three years, the CA$H Coalition has facilitated 36,994 returns yielding $56M in returns, nearly $12M in EITC, and saving filers $9M in filing fees. In 2020, despite the mid-tax season shutdown caused by COVID-19, VITA prepared 6,363 returns and helped put $15 million back into the local economy.
“Taxpayers who typically have simple returns may face additional challenges this year posed by COVID-19 including how to receive their stimulus money if they haven’t already received it and how to factor in any periods of unemployment,” said Andrew Kochian, VITA Program Coordinator. “It’s more important than ever that our community members know how to access this free and reliable tax help to ensure they are filing accurately and receiving their full refund.”
To protect the health and safety of community members, partners and volunteers, all tax preparation services will be offered virtually this year. The option to drop off materials is available for individuals who are not able to scan and upload documents on their own.
“Last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the middle of tax season, our VITA program and VITA programs across our area had to adapt. We couldn't safely have people on-site, and many folks had to utilize other resources to complete their taxes," said Jenn Hyde, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Tri-County Services. "This season’s virtual approach will once again allow our IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers to provide free and accurate services to our community members in this time when the service is needed more than ever.”
Appointments for tax preparation services are required and can be made by calling 2-1-1 or by calling your site directly. The full list of sites with contact information is available at www.GetFreeTaxPrep.org.
Income eligible individuals can also electronically file taxes for free without assistance at www.MyFreeTaxes.com.
ABOUT UNITED WAY OF THE GREATER CAPITAL REGION
United Way of the Greater Capital Region is an organization that fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. It unites donors, volunteers, and community organizations in a common mission to strengthen our community and improve social conditions in the Capital Region and beyond. Learn more at www.unitedwaygcr.org or Facebook.com/UnitedWayGCR
ABOUT CATHOLIC CHARITIES TRI-COUNTY SERVICES
Catholic Charities Tri-County Services is an agency of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany, providing services in across Albany, Rensselaer, and Schenectady Counties.
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany is one of the largest, private social services organizations in the region. Serving 14 counties around the Capital District across some 10,000 square miles, Catholic Charities serves and empowers all persons in need, regardless of race, creed, religion, or lifestyle, as well as advocates for a just society and collaborates with women and men of good will. Last year, more than 89,000 people turned to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany for assistance. Through the generous support of donors and the community, we are able to assist the poor and vulnerable with housing, food, emergency assistance, disabilities services, senior services, and much more. To learn more, go to: www.ccrcda.org
Director of Strategic Communications