By Rhea Riley
Milwaukee’s Social Development Commission (SDC) has begun its tax assistance program for the 2019 tax season.
SDC’s VITA program, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, is a free tax preparation service that helps community members file their taxes.
“What we do here, if you make less than $58,000, we will provide free tax services to individuals and their families,” said President of SDC George P. Hinton.
Hinton, who is familiar with corporate tax filing agencies, recalls how the amount of fees for their service can become a burden financially for lower income families.
According to CBS, tax filing agencies such as H&R Block, TurboTax and Jackson Hewitt can charge additional fees for more complicated tax forms and deductions. They can also charge for the amount of returns received in your tax return and even face to face consultations. Face-to-face consultations can be necessary for those who don’t have internet access to do their online programs.
“This made me appreciate VITA on sight, because it was there as a service,” Hinton said about their free service.
The VITA program covers filing for Federal, State and Homestead tax services, all for free. To be considered for the program, one’s household income must be $58,000 or less. Users must bring their social security card and appropriate tax filing forms. The program is accessible at four different locations.
Federal and State filing can be done at three of their locations: SDC-Main Office 1730 W North Ave., SDC-Teutonia 6848 N Teutonia Ave., SDC-Southside 2740 W Forest Home Ave., While only homestead taxes can be filed at their United Way located at 200 W Pleasant St.
Due to limited funds by the IRS, SDC has received additional funding and assistance through various partners such as, Landmark Credit Union, Wisconsin Department of Revenue, Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, Milwaukee Asset Building Coalition, Northwestern Mutual, City of Milwaukee and The United Way.
These organizations help match the amount of funding provided by the IRS and even try to provide additional staff to help throughout the tax season.
For local 80-year-old retiree Matthew Williams, a service like this can be convenient and beneficial.
“H&R Block probably charges you $100,” said Williams. “The kind of medicine you use when you get to my age, like $80 worth, goes a long way, so you know that’s why I come.”
Williams, who is a second time user of the program, finds it easier when filing his taxes due to his limited funds from his social security and pension.
During this year’s visit, Williams checked in for a 10 a.m. appointment but had been waiting for two hours. The program has been implementing scheduled appointments and also walk-ins, but due to a limited staff and volunteers, there can a wait for users.
However, that was not discouraging due to Williams flexible schedule and the programs new extended hours. “
Whenever something is free be prepared to wait,” said Williams.
For many people like Williams, the one-on-one tax visit allows consultants to introduce users to SDC’s other free services that focus on work development, education, mental health, and financial management.
“Giving people resources to survive and thrive out of poverty is our goal,” said Hinton.
To learn more about the VITA Program or SDC and their other services, visit https://www.cr-sdc.orghttps://www.cr-sdc.org or call 414-963-2694. To schedule an appointment for a VITA tax consultation call: 414-206-2262