The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is now available for the 2019 season. The program provides free tax preparation services for individuals and families who have low to moderate income in communities across the country.

In general, to qualify for the service, your combined household income must not exceed $54,000.

VITA volunteers trained and certified by the IRS will provide free income tax preparation for individuals who qualify–helping them obtain credits for which they are eligible (including the Earned Income Tax Credit).

While some locations allow walk-ins, some locations are by appointment, and some allow you to drop off your information and you just come back to pick up your completed return. In general, the service runs through April 15.

The program is operated by different organizations, with their own set of requirements, in different communities.

In several cities, including the Kansas City Metropolitan Area and Wichita, the program is coordinated through the United Way and Individuals can determine eligibility and set up an appointment by calling 2-1-1 (United Way’s toll-free 24-hour information line). AARP is also a big participant in the program. While their focus is on seniors, they do serve others.

In Wichita, the program is conducted locally by the BE$T (Building Economic Stability Together) Coalition of South Central Kansas. Call 2-1-1- for an appointment. Walk-ins are accepted at the United Way of the Plains, 245 N. Water St, Wichita.

In Kansas City, the service is conducted by Connecting For Good. You can call 2-1-1 for an appointment, but a number of locations accept walk-ins and drop-offs. A few KCK locations:

Connecting for Good, 3240 Michigan, KCMO

Operation Breakthrough, 3039 Troost, KCMO

El Centro, 2000 N. 3rd St, KCK

KCKCC, 7250 State, Flint Bldg, Rm 3632, KCK

For a list of all Kansas City area tax prep sites go online to: connectingforgood.org/programs/taxprep/

In Hutchinson, the service is provided at the Salvation Army. Hours are Tuesdays 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursdays 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and Saturdays 2/16 & 3/2 from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

In Salina, the program is run by the United Way, with services provided on a first-come, first-served basis, at 1458 Santa Fe. Assistance is available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays; 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

In Junction City, the VITA program is run by The United Way. Their hours of operation are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings by appointment only. The tax prep site is at the United Way Office, 139 E. 8th St., Suite C.

In Topeka, there are a number of organizations providing free tax service. For a complete list of providers and the days they’re open, go online to www.shawnee.k-state.edu/2019 TaxBrochure

Planning ahead, here are some of the things you need to bring with you.

Taxpayers must bring a government-issued photo ID, Social Security card or Social Security number verification letter for all persons named on the tax return, as well as each of their birthdates.

They must also bring all income statements including W-2 and 1099 forms for all incomes.

Those with health insurance purchased on the marketplace should bring 1095 forms (Affordable Health Care Statements).

Taxpayers hoping to claim a Kansas Homestead refund should bring their property tax bills.

Those claiming child-care tax credits should bring the total they paid as well as the provider’s tax ID number.

Those who wish to receive their refund via direct deposit, or pay their taxes via bank draft should bring a blank check or bank card indicating the account’s routing number and account number.

Finally, copies of last year’s state and federal returns are helpful to speed the process of completing this year’s form.

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