Did you make less than $50,000 last year? Use a VITA site and get free tax help…

It’s tax time and for the majority of tax filers on Long Island, if you made less than $50,000 last year and do not itemize your returns, you are eligible to have your taxes done for free at one of the many VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) sites scattered around the NY area. And why should you use a VITA site?


Credits can significantly reduce your tax bill and the big credit most people, who make less than $50,000 in a year, can claim is the earned income credit (EIC). The EIC can reduce your taxable income but do you qualify for it or not? Not all people do. A VITA site can help determine whether you are eligible or not. If you incorrectly take the credit while doing your own taxes you will not be able to claim the credit for an additional 2 years, whether or not your eligible for it. Here is a quick list of what the credit is worth…

Tax Year 2010 maximum EIC credit:
  • $5,666 with three or more qualifying children
  • $5,036 with two qualifying children
  • $3,050 with one qualifying child
  • $457 with no qualifying children

A VITA site will also be able to determine who is an eligible child or not. Combine your EIC with your standard deduction and you could significantly reduce your tax bill.

Here are the standard deduction rates for 2010…

[tabs slidertype=”top tabs”] [tabcontainer] [tabtext]Single[/tabtext] [tabtext]Married Filing Jointly[/tabtext] [tabtext]Married Filing Separate[/tabtext] [tabtext]Head of Household[/tabtext] [/tabcontainer] [tabcontent]

  • Single – $5700
  • Single w/1 deduction – $7100
  • Single w/2 deductions – $8500
  • Married filing joint – $11,400
  • Married filing joint w/1 deduction – $12,500
  • Married filing joint w/2 deductions – $13,600
  • Married filing joint w/3 deductions – $14,700
  • Married filing joint w/4 deductions – $15,800
  • Married filing separate – $5700
  • Married filing separate w/1 deduction – $6800
  • Married filing separate w/2 deductions – $7900
  • Married filing separate w/3 deductions – $9000
  • Married filing separate w/4 deductions – $10,100
  • Head of Household – $8400
  • Head of Household w/1 deduction – $9800
  • Head of Household w/2 deductions – $11,200

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Who Are Dependents?

And do not think that dependents can only be children. On Long Island there are many people who are taking care of elderly parents. There are even people who are old enough to collect Social Security who are taking care of elderly parents. In some cases the IRS allows you to claim an elderly parent as a qualifying relative as long as they meet certain criteria.

Dependents can come in many forms when attempting to identify who may be a qualifying relative on your return. Generally if you provided over 50% of a relatives financial support for the year and they lived with you, you may be able to claim that relative as a dependent. A qualifying relative could be a sibling, aunt, uncle, even in-laws.

A VITA site can help you determine your dependency exemptions and save you significant money on your taxes.

What do I need to bring?.

The majority of sites do not require an appointment. Just bring in the following:

  • a photo ID (Driver’s License, Passport)
  • the Social Security cards of all your potential dependents.
  • all W-2’s
  • any 1099’s

[learn_more] The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) offers free tax help for taxpayers who qualify.

Trained community volunteers may help with special credits, such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, most sites also offer free electronic filing (e-filing). Individuals taking advantage of the e-file program will receive their refunds in half the time compared to returns filed on paper – even faster when tax refunds are deposited directly into one’s bank account.

The VITA Program offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income (generally, $49,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns. Certified volunteers sponsored by various organizations receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations.


So click the button above to find your nearest VITA site. As a current volunteer I would highly recommend you visit a VITA site if you qualify. It could mean more money in your refund…


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