With tax season underway, New Hampshire groups are raising awareness about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), an IRS-sponsored program to help people file their income tax returns correctly and maximize their refunds.
Granite Staters who earn less than about $56,000 a year are eligible for VITA.
Cary Gladstone, senior director of asset-building services for Granite United Way, said through online sites, such as myfreetaxes.com, as many as seven in 10 people who file a tax return can do it free.
“The VITA program provides face-to-face and drop-off and remote preparation by IRS-certified volunteers,” Gladstone explained. “They can reach that by going to NHtaxhelp.org and finding a site near them.”
Gladstone added residents without internet access can call 211 and operators will help them make an appointment. And while the deadline for filing taxes isn’t until mid-April, he said it is important to get started as soon as possible, to make sure you maximize your refund.
Gladstone described three major tax credits working households may be eligible for: the Earned Income Tax Credit is for low-income working people. The Child Tax Credit is what many families have already received half of, in advance payments through last year. And the Child and Dependent Care Credit is for working people who have a child under age 13, or someone who lives with them who can’t care for themselves.
“As it is in New Hampshire, about one in four people eligible to get the Earned Income Credit do not do so,” Gladstone reported. “Based on data provided by the IRS, we calculated that means about $49 million is left on the table, by New Hampshire residents alone.”
He added he wants people to know there are still resources for folks struggling financially due to the pandemic. Many organizations offering VITA also have other wraparound services available, from help getting emergency rental assistance and food assistance, to affordable child care and more.