Lamar University Community Outreach Program has joined efforts with the Internal Revenue Service to increase earned income tax credit (EITC) awareness and education. Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, Lamar University is providing free tax preparation for individuals and families, students, senior citizens, and non-English speaking people in Beaumont beginning February 9, through April 12 at the L.L. Melton Y.M.C.A. at 3455 Sarah St. in Beaumont. Tax preparation sessions are scheduled 10:00am to 2:00pm.

Trained volunteers from the community and Lamar University students will help individuals and families with special credits, such as the EITC, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly, for which they may qualify. In addition to free tax return preparation assistance the Lamar University V.I.T.A. web site will also offer free electronic filing (e-filing). Individuals taking advantage of the e-file program will receive their refunds in half the time compared to returns filed on paper – even faster if the refund is deposited directly into a bank account.

According to Janet Bradford, a representative with the IRS in Houston, “One of the most important and least expensive ways the community can help the low-income is by informing them about, and helping them file for, the EITC and Child Tax Credit. These refundable credits can provide thousands of dollars to improve their standard of living and provide an asset building opportunity.” Individuals in Beaumont are by and large, not taking advantage of the EITC.

Elton C. Payne, Jr., Lamar Community Outreach Director says, “If you have not yet filed your 2007 tax return, please consider filing through VITA. Our e-filing system is as efficient as any other tax preparer or software. Some persons may be concerned about revealing this rather personal information to student VITA volunteers. I assure you that all VITA persons are very aware of the confidentiality requirements and all information will be held in the strictest confidence.”

Walk-in customers are welcome. Interested persons should contact Payne at (409) 880-7983 to schedule an appointment or for more information.

About the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program

The VITA Program offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income ($37,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns. Volunteers sponsored by various organizations receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other convenient locations. Most locations also offer free electronic filing.