VITA Free Tax Preparation for those who qualify for the Earned Income Tax CreditJan. 25, 2018 -- The Westchester-Putnam Workforce Board will once again offer its popular free tax preparation assistance to Westchester residents through a program called VITA. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,500 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. In 2017, 9,280 Westchester taxpayers received more than $11 million in refunds and $4 million in tax credits.

The program, which will run from Feb. 1 through April 17, 2018, helps low and moderate-income individuals and families eligible for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) file their taxes and maximize their returns. Since its inception, VITA has been a vital service for those living paycheck to paycheck or with fixed incomes. All assistance is provided at no cost, and on top of EITC savings (maximum of $6,318), clients often discover that they are eligible for additional credits, such as the Credit for the Elderly or Disabled.

The Earned Income Tax Credit, or commanly known as EITC, is a federal tax credit available to working families and individuals with modest incomes. Many eligible Westchester residents are not aware of the credit and therefore do not claim it. Maximum credits depend on income, marital status and size of family. Each year New York State and New York City set threshold limits. Limits for the current tax year are issued prior to the beginning of the tax preparation season.

To make sure it delivers maximum benefits, VITA relies on dedicated volunteers to assist with various tasks, including tax preparation, translation, call-center operations, and acting as greeters. In addition to VITA, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program, offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors. The IRS-certified volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.

Before going to a VITA or TCE site, participants are encouraged to check Publication 3676-B (available in English and Spanish) for services provided and a checklist of what to bring in order to get maximum support during the session.

VITA aims to help working families take advantage of all tax credits for which they are eligible, including earned income tax credit, child tax credits and education credits. This not only assists the individual or family, but also increases tax dollars in the county as it is estimated that about 80 percent of refunds are then spent locally, which generates local sales, wages, and jobs, ultimately boosting the local economy.

To qualify, individuals must file certain tax forms with their federal and state income taxes. The federal form is 1040 or 1040A with Schedule EITC. The state form is Form IT-215.

Volunteer income tax assistance program runs through April 18
Volunteer tax preparer and Spanish translator assistance runs through April 18 and is available at the sites below. The last appointment dates are listed by each location. Call 211 or (800) 899-1479 to make an appointment at one of the Westchester County EITC Tax Assistance locations.

Appointments and Walk-In Locations
The last appoinment is an hour before closing at every location. No exceptions.

White Plains: Westchester/Putnam One-Stop Center, 120 Bloomingdale Rd.

Appointments run: Feb. 1 – April 17
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Saturdays: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Languages: English, Spanish

Mt. Vernon: Mt Vernon One-Stop Center, 100 East First St.

Appointments run: Feb. 2 – April 14
Wednesdays and Fridays, 9 a.m.– 5 p.m.

Languages: English

Valhalla: Westchester Community College Gateway Center, 75 Grassland Rd., Gateway Bldg. across from parking lot #1.

Appointments run: Feb. 5 – April 16

Mondays and Fridays, 10 a.m.– 5 p.m.

Languages: English
Note: Walk-ins are for WCC students only

Yonkers: Educational Opportunity Center of Westchester, 26 South Broadway
Appointments run: Feb. 1 – April 17
Tuesdays and Thursdays, Noon – 8 p.m.

Winter Break:  Feb. 20 and 22, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Spring Break:  April 3 and 5, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Languages: English

Dobbs Ferry: Mercy College, 555 Broadway, Victory Hall, Room 100
Appointments run, Saturdays:  Feb. 3 to March 24, April 7 and April 14, 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Appointments run, Sundays:  Feb. 18, Feb. 25, March 4, March 11 and March 18, 9:30 a.m – 1 p.m.

Languages: English, Spanish

Ossining: IFCA Housing Network, 138 Spring Street
Appointments run: Feb. 3 to April 17

Mondays:
138 Spring Street, Noon – 3 p.m. (walk-in)
Ossining High School, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. (walk-in)

Tuesdays:
138 Spring Street, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. (by appointment)

Wednesdays:
138 Spring Street, Noon – 3:30 p.m. (by appointment)

Thursdays:
138 Spring Street, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. (by appointment)

Fridays:
Ossining High School, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. (walk-in)

Saturdays:
138 Spring Street, 12:30 pm – 4:30 p.m. (by appointment)

Bronx: Mercy College Bronx Campus, 1200 Waters Place (First floor, Room 1344)
Appointments Fridays: Feb.2, Feb. 9, Feb. 23, March 23, March 16, March 23, April 6 and April13,11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Languages: English and Spanish

Additional support is available through the Self-Assisted Tax Preparation service at www.myfreetaxes.com for taxpayers making less than $66,000. If you need support, stop by one of the facilitated self-assistant sites at White Plains or Mount Vernon One-Stop Career Center.

Who Qualifies for EITC
The potential maximum tax credit includes federal, state and New York City credits and depends on income, marital status and number of children in the household. Children can be a son, daughter, grandchild, adopted child, step child or foster child as long as the child is under 19 years of age.

Single (ages 25-65)

  • With no children: Maximum income to be eligible: $15,010; 
Maximum tax credit: $510


  • With one child: Maximum income to be eligible: $39,617; 
Maximum tax credit: $3,400
  • With two children: Maximum income to be eligible: $45,007; 
Maximum tax credit: $5,616
  • With three or more children: Maximum income to be eligible: $48,340
; Maximum tax credit: $6,318

Married/filing jointly (ages 25-65)

  • With no children: Maximum income to be eligible: $20,600; 
Maximum tax credit: $510
  • With one child: Maximum income to be eligible: $45,207; 
Maximum tax credit: $3,400
  • With two children: Maximum income to be eligible: $50,597; 
Maximum tax credit: $5,616
  • With three or more children:  Maximum income to be eligible: $54,500; 
Maximum tax credit: $6,318

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