VITA services available to public via online
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is still being offered through the COVID-19 pandemic, though in-person preparation is temporarily halted.
VITA is operated by Commerce Services and open to Native and non-Native families with annual household incomes not exceeding $55,952, according to a previous Cherokee Phoenix article.
“Cherokee Nation VITA staff are still available to help taxpayers prepare and file their taxes,” Commerce Executive Director Anna Knight said. “We are offering virtual tax preparation where the taxpayer completes an intake form online and emails the form and required documentation to a Cherokee Nation staff member who then prepares the tax return.”
VITA has offered tax preparation services to families for the past 30 years. In 2019, 1,966 families used the service, officials said.
“The Cherokee Nation has provided free tax preparation for low-to-moderate income taxpayers through the VITA program, completing 17,814 tax returns since 2010, which has enabled VITA clients to receive $23.9 million in tax refunds since that time,” Knight said. “Free VITA tax preparation saves families an average of $200 in tax service fees. Commerce staff are trained to prepare tax returns, maximizing tax refunds through deductions and tax credits.”
Knight said staff members are available by phone to walk taxpayers through the process of online tax preparation should they need assistance.
“After the tax return is completed, the taxpayer is contacted to review and authorize the return. Upon receipt of the taxpayer’s authorization, the preparer electronically submits the tax return,” Knight said.
She said taxpayers with household income under $66,000 can prepare and file their own taxes for free at http://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/
For information, call the CN Small Business Assistance Center at 918-453-5536.
Tax filing and payment deadlines for both federal and state taxes have been extended to July 15.