VITA helping with tax preparation | News, Sports, Jobs


The 2020 tax season is officially under way and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is open for business in locations around Chautauqua County.

VITA provides free preparation of income tax returns for individuals that are eligible. Most individuals making less than $68,000 per year qualify so long as they do not have income from sources that are considered outside the scope of VITA. Some examples of work that are outside of scope include income from rental property, farm income and home office expenses. Income reported on a W-2, 1099, or from Social Security are the most common sources of income for individuals filing with VITA. To make an appointment call 2-1-1 or 1-888-696-9211.

The VITA program provides IRS training and certification to a group of committed volunteers who operate the program and complete returns. The volunteers must review IRS materials, and complete online and in-person training, and pass the certification exams in order to take part. This year volunteers will be on hand for appointments at the United Way office in Dunkirk, the Westfield YWCA and the Fredonia Technology Incubator. In addition, remote hours will be established for Silver Creek on a weekly basis.

United Way has been the area’s largest provider of VITA for more than 15 years. In that time VITA volunteers have secured refunds totaling more than $17,000,000 while averaging about a million dollars a year.

“The VITA program provides an important service to taxpayers in our community,” said Adam Dolce, United Way of Northern Chautauqua County executive director. “By providing this service they can retain the income they worked so hard for and may qualify for tax credits, like the EITC, that can help their family. In turn, that income comes back in full to Chautauqua County, and helps to further support our local economy.”

Numerous precautions have been implemented this year due to COVID-19. Those include physical barriers at tax prep sites to help ensure distancing, as well as an emphasis on the availability of virtual appointments. Virtual returns require the taxpayer to visit a drop-off site, complete some of the intake forms, and then their return will be completed over the course of a week by a volunteer working remotely. The virtual return provides the least amount of contact for the taxpayer and the volunteer. The VITA site may be able to support taxpayers that prefer to file on their own but may need some guidance. The facilitated Self Assistance option can provide a VITA eligible taxpayer with access to the software where they can complete the return on their own. If at any time during the process they have questions or need assistance they can access help via email with the VITA team at the United Way office.

When making an appointment through 2-1-1, taxpayers will be asked a few questions to help ensure they are ready for their appointment. Taxpayers must bring all their needed documents with them to the appointment to include W-2’s, 1099’s, unemployment statements, 1095-A’ and any other information that may impact your return. For this tax year, filers must also be able to attest to whether or not they received their economic impact payments in 2020, and early 2021. Those who have not received either of these payments must complete a tax return to obtain them now if they are eligible.

The United Way of Northern Chautauqua County is located at 626 Central Ave., Dunkirk. For more information, visit

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