Free Tax Return Preparation Program is Available

YONKERS – Last Tuesday, Westchester County Executive George Latimer and the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board (WPWDB) hosted a kickoff event at SUNY Westchester Community College Yonkers for the County’s annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

The VITA program helps low- and moderate-income individuals and families eligible for the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) file their taxes for free. The program also provides help for people with disabilities, senior citizens, and those for whom English is a second language.

VITA relies on dedicated volunteers to act as greeters, and assist with translation and call-center operations. Tax preparation is done by IRS-certified volunteers with free electronic filing.

The program is operating now through April 15 at nine locations throughout Westchester and the Bronx. Residents can call 211 or 1-800-899-1479 to schedule an appointment at one of nine locations listed below.

In 2023, the Westchester VITA program helped 1,759 residents. A total of $2.2 million federal and state refunds were received by Westchester residents.

This year, students from Mt. Vernon High School are volunteering for the program as part of the VITA Student Initiative, a partnership with students from Ossining High School, Westchester Community College and Mercy University. Eleven students were trained and received IRS certification to prepare returns. New volunteer students work alongside experienced VITA volunteers to provide tax preparation services to members of the community who could not otherwise afford it, providing a learning experience while offering valuable services to the Westchester community.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “What started as a small program in 1969, to help the IRS increase taxpayer education, has evolved into a critical resource for low- and moderate-income taxpayers. Today, the VITA program ensures accurate tax returns, equitable access to the tax code, and needed tax refunds for our working families and individuals who most need them. It also serves to boost the local economy; it’s estimated that about 80% of refunds are spent locally, generating sales, wages, and jobs.”
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said, “We are proud to provide our hard-working residents access to free tax prep services they can trust and rely on right in their local community. We’re especially pleased that VITA services will be offered for the first time at the WCC Campus at the Cross County Shopping Center. We thank all the IRS certified volunteers for their time and talent.”

The program is delivered through a collaboration of partners who worked diligently to coordinate the day-to-day operations—2-1-1 Hudson Valley/United Way of Westchester and Putnam; the IRS; Westchester County Government; Westchester Community College, Valhalla and Cross County Campuses; Mercy University, Dobbs Ferry and Bronx Campuses; Ossining High School; Ossining Youth Bureau; Westchester Jewish Community Services; and the Westchester-Putnam Career Center Network.

Volunteer tax preparer and language translator assistance runs from February 2 through April 15 and is available at the sites. Call 211 or (800) 899-1479 to make an appointment at one of the Westchester County VITA/EITC Tax Assistance locations.

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