Before her divorce, Anne’s taxes were pretty straight-forward and she preferred to prepare them herself. But when she and her husband divorced, things got complicated. They disagreed about who would claim the children as dependents.
Their divorce agreement allowed each parent to claim one of their two children, who are now ages 9 and 11. But Anne’s ex-husband said he would claim both. Anne was worried she would get in trouble with the IRS if she claimed one of their children as a dependent, also.
When Anne learned about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program through her children’s daycare center, she quickly made an appointment to get answers to her questions. There, she met Larry Hayward, a long-time VITA volunteer and coordinator of VITA’s Enfield site.
When Larry learned about Anne’s situation, he put her in touch with the IRS.
“Talking to the IRS put me at ease,” said Anne. She learned that she was protected by the divorce agreement and should proceed with claiming one child as a dependent. She also learned that she was eligible to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit – worth hundreds of dollars – because her kids lived with her most of the time.
As a waitress, Anne earns a modest income. Her tax refund – including the Earned Income Tax Credit – helps her pay important bills throughout the year.
“Waitressing keeps some of my days free, so I can be more involved with my kids’ school,” says Anne, who is now Vice President of the PTO. “The return provides a cushion, so I can stay in my job and focus on my kids.”
Anne has relied on VITA ever since to help her prepare and file her tax returns.
“I’m grateful to Larry for helping me through a difficult situation. Having my returns prepared with VITA doesn’t take a long time and I know I’m receiving quality services,” she says. “And it’s free!”
The Village and United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut partner to offer VITA, which provides free tax preparation services for individuals and families earning up to $54,000 per year in the Greater Hartford and Windham communities.
During the 2017 tax season, more than 8,750 individuals and families in Greater Hartford and Windham County prepared and filed their tax returns with help from VITA and MyFreeTaxes.com. These filers received nearly $17.5 million in federal tax refunds and credits; the average refund was more than $1,600 per household. In addition to the refunds and credits they receive, filers save an average of about $270 on tax preparation fees by using the free service provided by VITA and MyFreeTaxes.com.
VITA is only possible with the dedication of hundreds of volunteers. To learn more about becoming a VITA volunteer, contact Tasheenah Brown, community engagement senior manager, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, 860-493-1122, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about VITA, the eligibility requirements and how to access services here.