Tax Prep Help

By: Justin Williams
By: Justin Williams

It's not just the money, but…
"It's a nice boom to the community and brought back, I think about five–million–dollars in tax returns to this community so – at no charge to them which is the way we think it should be," says Michael Gutter.

Gutter is a coordinator at Dane county's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Partnership, or VITA. The organization is in its fourth year of providing free tax return filing help to low–income workers, older adults, and people with disabilities.
Gutter explains, "We really believe that we can help people plan better for their long–run financial security, by teaching them certain basic skill–sets now—money management, credit management, as well as making sure you get all your tax dollars back."

VITA represents a partnership between Wisconsin's Department of Revenue and other local organizations, including U–W Madison students, such as Janette Wagner, who say they take something away from the experience as well.
"I've learned a lot about filing income taxes—and it's just great helping people out that are scared to do the taxes themselves."
Janette learned of VITA through a UW student group. She says volunteers help ensure clients get every credit or deduction they deserve, or that they pay the federal or state government the appropriate amount.

Meanwhile, Gutter says his interest lies in helping people enjoy more of their earnings.
"We also hope that we'll connect people to additional resources, so we're thrilled that with the number of people that use this free tax service, we'd also like people to use every type of service that we have available to them."

Gutter says VITA helped more than 38–hundred tax–payers file their tax returns in 2004…saving more than 8–hundred thousand dollars in tax preparation fees.

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