Paying it Forward

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Bloomfield resident Deborah Breedlove, who works for a large retirement community in West Hartford, has relied on Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers to help her accurately complete her taxes, free and online, for nearly a decade. Every year, she followed the VITA tax preparers’ advice and diligently saved a portion of her refund.

Deborah is single with no dependents, and up until recently, had no significant tax deductions.

“About four years ago I was getting my taxes done with the VITA volunteers. We ran the numbers and discovered I had to pay additional taxes to the IRS. The VITA tax preparer said, ‘Why don’t you buy a house?’ I told him that I was too old to buy a house and he replied, ‘You’re never too old to buy a house.’ His encouragement gave me hope and motivation. All of the VITA tax preparers were extremely helpful and professional, but that simple suggestion propelled me into action.”

When Deborah’s rental contract ended for her two-bedroom apartment, she moved in with her mom, paying her $525 a month in rent while she found a realtor, qualified for a mortgage (“my realtor told me ‘you are SO ready!’“), enrolled in a homeownership class that taught her how to navigate the process of buying a home, and began searching for her house.

One and a half years later, Deborah purchased a small three-bedroom ranch in Bloomfield, paying less for her mortgage than her previous rental.

This February, Deborah will mark her third year as a homeowner who can now deduct her mortgage interest and property taxes on her IRS return.

“While I don’t get a big tax refund, since buying my home I haven’t had to pay additional taxes, and the refund helps me save for any home repairs I might need to do,” she explains.

Deborah has benefited so much from her tax preparation experiences with VITA that she has signed up to be a VITA volunteer in 2018. She recently completed IRS training to help others file their taxes, and will volunteer at a VITA center on the weekends.

“I am a great example of what a benefit it is to the community to be able to come in and get your taxes done free,” Deborah says. “Because of VITA volunteers’ support and advice, I saved and now own my own home, which is benefiting me financially.”

“Most lower income people can’t afford to pay to get their taxes done, so the VITA program is a big help,” she adds. “I’m looking forward to helping people who earned less than $54,000 in 2017 get the tax benefits they deserve, while encouraging them to save for their own future goals.”

To schedule an appointment with a VITA tax assistance volunteer, www.211ct.org or dial 2-1-1 and press ‘3’ then ‘6’.

For more than a decade, VITA and MyFreeTaxes have been helping working families become financially secure. Free tax preparation is one way for hard-working families to keep more money in their wallets. Last year, 12,378 tax filers in central and northeastern Connecticut received $27,823,715 in refunds and credits thanks to the VITA program and MyFreeTaxes.com.

The 2018 VITA and MyFreeTaxes program partners are: Community Accounting Services; Human Resources Agency of New Britain; Internal Revenue Service; The Village for Families & Children; and United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut.

The 2018 VITA/MyFreeTaxes program is generously supported by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and Farmington Bank Community Foundation.