Need help with your taxes? Here’s what to know about free assistance in Connecticut – Hartford Courant

Official tax-filing season kicks off this week and for many families across Connecticut that means getting a much-needed refund.

With the April 18 filing date, residents have an extra three days this year before the deadline.

But for many families, tax filing remains a daunting process with many not receiving the full amount they’re entitled to. It’s estimated that 20 percent of those eligible for earned income tax credit don’t take it, according to the Internal Revenue Service. People have to have income to qualify, but they don’t have to meet filing requirements.

But free assistance is available to help navigate the challenges of tax filing. See a list of free tax preparation sites at irs.gov/individuals/irs-free-tax-return-preparation-programs.

The United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, in partnership with The Village for Families & Children and Human Resources Agency of New Britain is offering Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.

The program offers free federal and state income tax preparation services for Connecticut residents with annual household incomes of up to $60,000.

“VITA not only saves people on tax prep but it helps them access thousands of dollars in tax refunds. That money is crucial for paying rent, buying groceries, car repairs and other costs. With inflation eroding every family’s purchasing power, this year’s VITA initiative is more important than ever,” said Galo Rodriguez, President & CEO at The Village for Families & Children.

The goal of the program is to help individuals and families get ahead financially, pay down debt and work toward saving for the future.

One such tool to get more money into the pockets of families is the earned income tax credit. The EITC is a tax credit for workers who have earned less than $53,267. The EIC can be greater than the total income tax bill. In some cases, it provides refunds to individuals and families that have had little or no income tax withheld from their paychecks. Some people don’t bother checking into it because they aren’t required to file income taxes.

“The EITC is an excellent source of additional income for qualified families experiencing hardships due to the economic climate after COVID-19. Families with limited resources must use every opportunity they can to overcome the economic challenges they face. We are happy to provide a free service to help them access these funds.” said Dr. Marlo Greponne, executive director, Human Resources Agency of New Britain, Inc.

At a press conference on Tuesday in Hartford, it was announced that last year more than 10,000 tax filers across the state received free tax services from 259 trained volunteer tax preparers resulting in $27.5 million in refunds and credits being returned to local communities.

“This initiative not only supports hard-working families claiming every tax credit and refund they have earned, but also provides many volunteers with the opportunity to give back to the community,” said Eric Harrison, president and CEO, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut. “VITA would not exist without the hundreds of volunteer tax professionals who drive the success of the campaign, giving their time and getting the certifications needed to meet IRS standards; we value and appreciate that tremendously.”

All VITA volunteers are certified-IRS tax professionals who are trained to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of all taxpayer information. VITA offers three ways to connect with a trained tax professional, including drop off appointments, in-person assistance and virtual VITA submissions.

To register for VITA in the Greater Hartford, Tolland and Windham areas visit 211ct.org/taxhelp or dial 2-1-1, press 3 then 6 to get your free tax preparation appointment scheduled. United Way 211 is a free, multilingual information and referral hotline, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To make an appointment in the New Britain area, visit hranbct.org/VITA or dial 860-356-2000.

For a complete list of required documents needed for VITA Tax Preparation, go to uwc.211ct.org/vita-docs.

Stephen Underwood can be reached at sunderwood@courant.com

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