For the ninth year, Bethpage Federal Credit Union is helping low- to moderate-income households in Farmingdale prepare their tax returns for free through the government’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
Last year, 96 families took part in the program at the Farmingdale branch, which will begin offering VITA tomorrow, Feb. 1, and will continue through April 11.
Eligible taxpayers with 2011 incomes of $49,000 and below do not need not be a Bethpage member to qualify to receive help from Bethpage's 150 IRS certified volunteers, including bilingual tax assistors. The VITA services will be available on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons in Farmingdale and 11 other Bethpage branches.
Bethpage has also partnered with the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island to help educate eligible taxpayers about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which each year goes unclaimed for thousands, and could bring an additional $7,476 into the hands of deserving Long Island families.
VITA volunteers will work with taxpayers to ensure that eligible families know how to claim their Earned Income Tax Credit. Currently, according to the IRS, 20 percent of Long Islanders are eligible to receive the EITC because of unemployment and declining wages.
“Both VITA and EITC are vital government programs that can help working-class families here on Long Island receive deserving refunds and credits, and ultimately provide a financial boost to the Long Island economy," said Bethpage Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy Linda Armyn.
Bethpage coordinates the largest VITA program on Long Island and last year, was honored by the IRS’ Commissioner of Wages and Investments for completing 1,295 VITA tax returns, and IRS total refunds of nearly $1.8 million.
Qualifying taxpayers planning to take advantage of Bethpage’s VITA program need to bring the following materials with them for review:
- 2011 tax package of wage and earnings statements (Form W-2)
- All interest and dividend statements (Form 1099-INT)
- All other income and expense information
- A copy of last year’s Federal and State returns if available
- Bank routing and account numbers for Direct Deposit
- Total paid for day care and provider’s tax ID
- Social security cards for you, your spouse and dependents and as well as photo identification.
- To file taxes electronically on a married filing joint tax return, both spouses must be present.
Long Island’s Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition, which was developed by the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island, was initiated to create awareness for VITA and EITC.
“One of government’s most effective anti-poverty programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit is only effective when workers are made aware of their eligibility,” said Gwen O’Shea, president and CEO of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island.