Despite the continuing challenges of COVID, the United Ways of Chautauqua County had a very successful and busy tax season with their Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. In total, over 1,400 households were assisted. Taxpayers either visited a traditional VITA preparation site, opted for virtual preparation, or completed their tax returns using MyFreeTaxes.com.
The success of the program can be measured by the $2,242,278 in refunds returned to the community at no cost to the taxpayer.
For the first time this year, United Way of Northern Chautauqua County and United Way of Southern Chautauqua County shared a VITA Program Administrator, who provided support and coordination to 58 volunteers. These volunteers prepared taxes, assisted with intake information, and provided site coordination—logging more than 3,500 hours of service to the community. In addition, United Way collaborated with the Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union, who shared 6 volunteers with the VITA program, providing translation services and tax return preparation. The Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union program prepared more than 780 tax returns.
“It was an absolute honor to work with both Amy Rohler and Adam Dolce as such dedicated leaders in our community,” said John Felton, CEO of Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union. “It was even a bigger honor to be able to help supply such a wonderful (and necessary) service.”
“The key to our success was the partnership with United Way of Northern Chautauqua County and the Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union,” said Amy Rohler, Executive Director of the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County. “It allowed us to more effectively and efficiently serve eligible households in the county.”
United Way of Northern Chautauqua County also provided outreach to the community on the Child Tax Credit, and extended volunteer service to community members looking to sign up for the credit when the tax season concluded. They partnered with Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc. to do outreach with families that were eligible for the credit but did not receive it.
“We’re committed to getting the word out about this program, and our goal is to continue collaborating with United Way of Southern Chautauqua County to make an even bigger impact next year,” said Adam Dolce, Executive Director of the United Way of Northern Chautauqua County. Dolce added that for households that do not normally file taxes, there is now a way to easily claim the Child Tax Credit by visiting www.getctc.org/CHQ. The website is available in both English and Spanish, and the process takes about 15 minutes.
Other goals for next year’s VITA program include continuing collaboration between the Chautauqua County United Ways, increasing financial stability education, and providing voter registration forms to unregistered clients. Both Rohler and Dolce praised their volunteers, expressing gratitude for their work and commitment. Rohler said, “it's a pretty incredible person that chooses to do this kind of intensive volunteer work, and our community is proud of what they accomplish each year.” For those interested in volunteering in next year’s tax season, contact Lisa Sunday at (716) 483-1561 or email email@example.com.