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VITA Free Tax Service Now Booking Appointments For County Residents

Volunteers for the VITA program pose here during their recent first session for 2023 tax preparation, held in Jamestown at the Prendergast Library. The federal Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is administered locally by the United Ways of Chautauqua County.

Free tax preparation is available for Chautauqua County residents who qualify, and appointments can be made by contacting 211 Western New York.

Each year, the United Ways of Chautauqua County administers the federal Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program locally, training volunteers to prepare income tax returns at no charge to residents.

“We are chartered to assist low-to-moderate income taxpayers with a household income of $64,000 or less,” said Joe Kwiatkowski, coordinator of the VITA program for the United Ways of northern and southern Chautauqua County. “We also prepare tax returns for citizens with disabilities and with limited English proficiency.”

The primary focus of the VITA program is securing Earned Income Tax Credits for working families. The goal of United Way and its volunteers is to ensure that 100% of individuals’ refunds are returned to the taxpayers locally.

Last year, the VITA program in Chautauqua County generated more than $2.1 million in tax returns for 2,100 individuals and 1,550 households.

Together, the two United Ways of Chautauqua County administer the federal VITA grant by coordinating the community sites where the tax preparation is held and training volunteers to facilitate the tax preparations.

Appointments are available in Jamestown at the Prendergast Library. In northern Chautauqua County, the main VITA location will be at the United Way office on Central Avenue in Dunkirk. VITA sites will also be available in Silver Creek, Sinclairville, Mayville and Findley Lake in February.

A list of the documents needed to bring for a VITA program appointment can be found online at: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/checklist-for-free-tax-return-preparation.

Early reservations are encouraged. All scheduling of appointments is being handled by 211 Western New York, which can be reached by dialing 2-1-1 or 1-888-696-9211. There is no need to call either of the United Way offices for VITA tax appointments, as all scheduling is being handled by 211. When calling 211, follow the automated prompts and wait for a service representative who will work with to schedule an appointment for the appropriate tax preparation site.

This year’s VITA program will run through April 13. In lieu of an appointment, taxpayers can use the self-preparation portal at www.MyFreeTaxes.com to prepare their own tax returns.

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