Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
Our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a free income tax preparation service operated by Berks Encore through a grant from the Internal Revenue Service. Returns are completed at our Fleetwood, Mifflin, Reading, Strausstown, and Wernersville centers. Each tax year, more than 60 volunteers complete tax training for Federal returns. The volunteers must also pass a tax test following their training sessions.
The VITA volunteers are able to prepare Federal, State and Local tax forms, as well as Property Tax and rent rebate forms. We also have bilingual volunteers who can assist the Limited English Proficient (LEP) populations. VITA service is available to all taxpayers; however, it is geared primarily to low- to middle-income residents and seniors (generally $54,000 and below).
Appointments can be made by contacting the Berks Encore center where you would like to have your taxes prepared.
Volunteers are always needed for this program. Recruitment is ongoing, so those interested in learning more about this volunteer opportunity should download a VITA Volunteer Application and Authorization for Background Check and email it to LuAnn Oatman at LOatman@BerksEncore.org!
Documents to Bring When Having Your Taxes Done
When you arrive for your Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) appointment, it is important that you bring along the proper documentation. Without it, your VITA volunteer cannot complete the process, which may delay the completion of your return or require that you reschedule your appointment. To keep things on track, be sure to bring the following with you when having a VITA volunteer complete your taxes.
Documentation needed when filing Federal and State income tax returns:
- Proof of identification
- Social Security Cards for you, your spouse and dependents and/or a Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration
- Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
- Current year’s tax package (if applicable)
- Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, from all employers
- Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
- A copy of last year’s federal and state returns (if applicable)
- Bank routing numbers and account numbers for Direct Deposit
- Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number (the provider’s Social Security Number or the provider’s business Employer Identification Number)
- Copy of any forms 1099 received from the Railroad Retirement Board
- For any sales of stock we must have brokerage documents reflecting cost basis and selling prices.
Documentation needed when filing a rent or property tax rebate in addition to the documents listed above:
- Copies of all real estate tax bills and they must be marked paid or be supported by a cancelled check or receipt in order to claim the property tax rebate.
- Copy of Landlord Certificate indicating the amount of rent that you paid during the year 2010 if you are claiming a Rent Rebate.
- Your Pennsylvania driver’s license or identification if you have to furnish proof of age.
Due to changes in the program, there are tax situations that Berks Encore volunteers are no longer able to prepare. If any of these apply to you, please see a paid tax preparer:
- Your income is more than $54,000
- You have or claim rental property
- You have a non-deductible IRA (form 8606)
- You have multiple or complicated stock or brokerage accounts
- You have trust or investment-related income reported on a form K1
- You have a shared policy from the healthcare marketplace
- You need to file multiple state returns
- You’re self-employed and expect to show a loss