Updates in VITA

VITA Volunteer Doing Taxes

Free Tax Preparation Available to Regions Residents

Taxes are a fact of life, and for most people doing them is well…taxing. So the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments (SEUALG) has a program, that under certain conditions, provides free tax preparation services to residents.
The program is called VITA which stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
One of the parameters to get this service is what kind of return is being prepared. There is a scope of work in which the taxes for people can be done. Usually most of the taxes done by the agency are fairly uncomplicated. 
“We can do simple returns,” said Jade Powell who heads up the VITA program for SEUALG. “For instance we can’t do schedule F (farms), taxes with rental properties as part of them, certain kinds of business expenses, non-taxable combat pay (and many other military kinds of filing), foreign tax and moving expenses, among others.”  
Another factor is the amount of money a filer makes. The program has been set up to help low to moderate income taxpayers.
“To quality for the VITA program, taxpayers must bring in their taxes to see if they are within our scope of work,” said Powell. “The amount of money that qualifies is any amount under $54,000.”
The program is active in all the counties that SEUALG serves (San Juan, Grand, Emery and Carbon). There are sites in each county where people can take their taxes to be done. Tax documents will be prepared by trained volunteers that have professional supervision over them. Sometimes people become concerned about just anyone seeing their tax returns. In terms of privacy, all the volunteers and people associated with handling tax documents and information sign a confidentially agreement to not divulge information they may see when performing tax preparation. In addition, all those involved in tax preparation must be finger printed and have a background check before they can work on any persons taxes.
Besides going to the physical sites themselves, individuals can also use websites affiliated with the program to do their own taxes. 
“There is a site we use called Myfreetaxes.com (supported by United Way)  that individuals can use that lets people qualify up the $65,000 per year,” stated Powell. “To do that you must have a valid email address so they can send information to you.”
People also ask questions about what happens if something is done wrong with the tax preparation that is done by the volunteers.
“In this program, the IRS takes full responsibility if anything goes wrong because of the tax preparation that is done,” said Powell. “Actually the program is run by the IRS and we report directly to an IRS employee.”
The various physical sites have different kinds of staffing and hours. In San Juan there are six volunteers, in Moab and Emery County there are three and in Carbon County there are 15, 10 of which are students at USU Eastern under the direction of Henning Olsen, a Business Professor at the school. The other five volunteers come from a professional accounting firm located in town.
To become a preparer, volunteers get 10 hours of instruction and must take a test to qualify to prepare taxes. 
Last year sites in the region did 636 returns through all channels. The average income for the people that had their taxes done this way was $20,770. The total tax refunds that came back to the region amounted to $638,535 or an average refund of $1434. First year sites added to last years services included the Carbon Senior Center and a site in Castle Dale.
Preparation services will begin to be offered on January 25.
Services this year will be available at the following locations, dates and times. Note that some sites work by appointment only, and that some hours of operation may be subject to change.
Emery County Food Bank Site: 
40 South Center Street
Castle Dale, UT 84513
Open on Thursdays from 6-8 pm 
Call Sarah at 435-609-0549 for an appointment
Walk-ins are welcome 
USU- Grand County Extension: 
125 West 200 South 
Moab, UT 84532
By appointment only. Call Mike at 435-259-7558
USU-Eastern Site: 
Reeves Building Room 130
500 East 400 North
Price, UT 84501
Open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 am – 1 pm 
Call Henning Olsen at 435-613-5219 for an appointment 
Walk-ins are welcome 
Carbon County Senior Center: 
450 South Fairgrounds Road
Price, UT 84501
Call Senior Center at 435-636-3202 for an appointment. 
Mexican Water Chapter: 
Highway 191 Milepost 2
Bluff, UT 84512
Call Chapter House at 928-429-1054 for an appointment.