For a list of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites in W.Va., click here.CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Elderly and lower-income residents in need of tax help don't have to spend hundreds of dollars at tax preparation agencies, thanks to a free federal tax preparation program.
Volunteers at dozens of locations across the state have been on hand all tax season to help West Virginians, who make less than $50,000 a year, file their income taxes for free.
"We're here to help the ones that really need it the most," said Vicki Browning, the coordinator of a Logan County branch of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. "We're here to save them money."
The IRS started the VITA program to encourage middle and low-income residents to get tax preparation help. The state advertises for the program and pays for operating costs.
Preparation agencies can charge hundreds of dollars to complete income tax forms, Browning said. The VITA program is completely free, and its volunteers are happy to crunch a few numbers and help someone make money on his or her returns, she said.
"We're not here to take money from [tax preparation agencies]," she said, adding that those agencies generally don't share VITA's low-income clientele anyway.
Browning doesn't get a dime to coordinate her branch of the VITA program, at McDade Hall on Stratton Street in Logan. She loves working with numbers -- and when she's able to snag someone a big return, she said.
"When you're getting $500 electric bills, you need every penny you can get," she said.
During last year's tax season, Browning said the VITA program saved Logan County residents about $750,000. This year, in preparation fees alone, Browning estimates that she saved county residents $50,000, never mind the money they saved on returns.
Three volunteers help people file their income taxes out of the Logan County VITA branch.