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Intellect

Local income tax assistance program benefits from BYU student volunteers

More than 90 percent of volunteers come from university

More than $2.5 million in tax refunds are expected to be returned to Utah County residents who filed their income tax returns with the help of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program and a host of Brigham Young University students.

The program is designed to help individuals who cannot afford professional help to file their taxes. The volunteers are trained to help participants take advantage of special tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Utah County VITA labs were located at Community Action Services, St. Francis Catholic Church and BYU. Of the 139 Utah County VITA volunteers, 90 percent, or 126, were BYU students who volunteered at the BYU site.

The results of the VITA program in Utah County were presented to the volunteers at a recognition dinner and at the Council of Governments earlier this month. Nearly 140 VITA volunteers donated 1,990 hours and helped prepare 2,860 returns.

In addition, Utah County residents filed a total of $870,608 in earned income tax credit and a total of $374,548 in child tax credit through the VITA program.

Shannon Wilkins-Holm is one Utah County resident who filed her income tax return through the program. As a single mother who is working on a physical education degree, her salary last year was around $7,500. With the help of a VITA volunteer, she claimed an earned income tax credit and received a refund of about $2,400.

According to Mary Alice Cannon, chair of the Utah County VITA Coalition and director of the United Way of Utah County Volunteer Center, the program is a big part of United Way’s efforts to help build financially self-sufficient families.

“The VITA program is helping families keep the money that they work so hard to earn and bringing that money back to Utah County to make the local economy stronger,” she said. “As we change the lives of individuals and families in Utah County, we’re strengthening our community as a whole.”

Writer: Katie Hoshino

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