The Internal Revenue Service developed the VITA program to provide free tax help to people who earn $50,000 or less annually and would like assistance in preparing their tax returns. One of the reasons for this program is to inform taxpayers about the various tax credits they might qualify for federal tax deductions such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the Credit for the Elderly or Disabled.
I brought this program to Grand County in 2009 and have had at least three people receive certification through the IRS each year to provide the service. Those who are certified for the current tax year are ready and eager to assist people with their taxes.
Since the start of the program here in 2009, we have seen an increase in the number of local citizens who come to us for assistance. We hope to continue that this year. We should be starting the VITA tax season program by the first of February, if not before. If you are interested, give us a call at the Extension office in mid- to late January to make an appointment.
For your appointment you will need to bring proof of identification and your Social Security card or the Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) for yourself and anyone else you might be claiming on the tax return, such as a spouse or children. You will also need to bring all of the information needed for tax preparation, such as wage and earning statements, interest and dividend statements and other forms, depending on your situation. When you call to make your appointment we will discuss which forms you need to bring with you. This is a great program and we hope to see you this year.
Another great program is the IDA, or Individual Development Account, program. As stated on the Utah Individual Development Account Network (UIDAN) website, this program “is an investment strategy and multifaceted financial education program designed to help provide low to moderate income individuals and families with the opportunity, incentive, and institutional support necessary for them to save for and acquire productive assets that promise a higher income, new wealth and self-sufficiency.”
Basically, the IDA program helps you increase your total funds available for use on a wealth-building asset. It does this by matching your savings three-to-one, and the money can be used for the purchase of a home, to start a small business, or to help pay for higher education or assistive technology. This means that an individual can save up to $1,500 while in the program and have that matched with up to $4,500 for a total of $6,000. Yes, I know this sounds too good to be true, but it is a real program. Here in Grand County, our program has been so successful that it is now ranked third in the state for money that has been put into small businesses.
Participants are required to take eight hours of financial education training which is free and offered by the local USU Grand County Extension office. We don’t have regularly scheduled classes, rather, we have people sign up and as we get enough participants for a class then one is held. You can go to the UIDAN website at www.uidan.org for more information and eligibility requirements. To sign up for the class, call Mike Johnson at the Extension office.
Thought for the day: “So many financial dreams are thwarted by the failure to act upon good intentions.” —Suze Orman
For more information about these and other topics, call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 259-7558 or email Mike Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.