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Free Tax Preparation Yielding Millions in Refunds for CT Residents

April 22, 2010

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. - Many Connecticut taxpayers of modest means think they're not eligible for a refund and don't have the money to pay a commercial tax preparation service to find out. That's where VITA - Volunteer Income Tax Assistance -comes in. Every year, volunteers in more than 150 sites around the state help filers with their income tax.

Now that April 15 has come and gone, results of their efforts are rolling in, says Derek Haviland. He is the communications and outreach director with the Connecticut Association for Community Action, whose member agencies help run the VITA program.

"The two refunds that are primarily coming up for our customers are the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a federal tax credit and it's refundable; and the Child Care Tax Credit, which offers significant returns to parents with children."

In greater Hartford alone, volunteers assisted filers in getting refunds of $5.4 million this year - money he says helps promote families' self-sufficiency.

Haviland says he'd like to see the state of Connecticut pass an Earned Income Tax Credit. The estimated cost of one proposal is $23 million, which opponents say is too steep a price tag, especially in a recession, but Haviland says there's a return on the investment.

"Of the surrounding states in New England and New York, Connecticut is the only state that doesn't offer one. It does come with a pretty expensive price tag, but the quick turnaround and the money brought back to the community - which is typically spent immediately - are well worth it, in our view."

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT