October 16, 2023
Four Bands to Sunset Tax Preparation Program
Almost 20 years ago, Four Bands became a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site and began helping our community members file their tax returns free of charge. In 2005, we helped 23 people claim their maximum refunds, which resulted in about $50,000 more dollars circulating in our community that year. In addition, it helped those 23 people save an average of $250 each in tax preparation fees and avoid the high fees associated with rapid refund loans. The next year we helped 300 people, and the VITA program kept growing from there. It reached its peak in 2021 when we filed 1,264 tax returns, bringing $4.2 million in refunds back to our community and saving taxpayers an estimated $380,000 in preparation fees.
We launched our VITA program as a strategy to combat predatory lending practices and help our people build assets and wealth. In all, we have helped 8,077 community members file their tax returns and claim $24.7 million in tax refunds. By providing the service free of charge, with the help of our staff and volunteers, the people who used the VITA service saved a total of $2.4 million in tax preparation fees. While the VITA program has been a definitive success in those measures, the demand for this free service outpaces the funding available.
Unfortunately, we will no longer be able to provide tax preparation services. We understand this will be an adjustment for many of our community members, so we are actively searching for a community partner to lead the VITA program. In the coming months, we will be providing more information to help our local taxpayers in this time of transition.