Penn College, Salvation Army Again Allies in Tax-Help Program

Published 01.30.2009

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The free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, a collaboration of Pennsylvania College of Technology and The Salvation Army, is kicked off Jan. 30 by Phillip D. Landers, left, professor of business administration and accounting at Penn College. Joining him at a campus announcement are Lycoming County Commissioner Rebecca A. Burke and Salvation Army Major Steve Stoops, who applauded the program%E2%80%99s money-saving benefit to county residents.The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, in which Pennsylvania College of Technology students and community volunteers from The Salvation Army annually help hundreds of low-income local residents prepare their returns, soon will resume for the 2008 tax season.

The Internal Revenue Service's free program will be offered in Room 102 of Penn College's Madigan Library from 4-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday from Feb. 2 through April 9. Tax assistance also will be available at The Salvation Army's 457 Market St. location in downtown Williamsport and at the Muncy Public Library, 108 S. Main St.

"We are anticipating a busy tax season as we work together with Penn College to provide low-income taxpayers with this free service so that they may receive all the tax credits and their full refund!" said Major Marie Harris, who, along with Pam Hicks, oversees The Salvation Army's role in the partnership. "This year, we have expanded our sites to reach out even further in our county."

Volunteer preparers all of whom are trained and certified by the IRS are tax, accounting, business, finance and legal assistant students at Penn College. The college's VITA site is coordinated by Phillip D. Landers, professor of business administration and accounting in the School of Business and Computer Technologies, who also supervises a satellite service to be offered over three days at the college's North Campus near Wellsboro.

Salvation Army Major Marie Harris, standing, with co-worker Pam Hicks and VITA volunteer Derek R. Botts, a business administration%3A banking and finance student from South Williamsport.Appointments at all three Lycoming County locations can be obtained by calling The Salvation Army at (570) 326-9187, ext. 112. (On-campus taxpayer services are unavailable when the college is closed or when students are on Spring Break from March 8-15.)

The service was announced publicly at the college library Friday as part a national effort to spotlight Earned Income Tax Credit guidelines, the availability of free "Money in Your Pocket" tax-return preparation services and convenient electronic filing at more than 12,000 VITA sites across the country. Also on hand for the announcement were Lycoming County Commissioner Rebecca A. Burke and The Salvation Army's Major Steve Stoops.

"Very convenient location," one taxpayer said of her experience last year. "We received our full return within a week. Not having to pay for it was a plus because of our financial situation at the time. People were very easy to work with and were very thorough, making sure we received all the deductions we were eligible for."

During last year's tax season, students completed 299 federal and more than 280 state returns, amounting to nearly $240,000 in refunds a much-appreciated boost to those in lower tax brackets. The Salvation Army site accounted for a total of 316 filings and refunds amounting to $225,000. Volunteers also helped prepare hundreds of local returns for taxpayers and assisted Lycoming County Prison inmates and employees of the Hope Enterprises social-service agency.

The VITA program is designed for low- to moderate-income taxpayers who generally have noncomplicated returns and less than $45,000 in income. Special emphasis is placed on the EITC, as well as Child Tax and Child and Dependent Care credits. Taxpayers should bring proof of identification, Social Security numbers, spousal and dependents' birth dates, bank routing information for direct deposit of refunds, important tax documents such as W-2 and 1099 forms, and simple retirement or unemployment data.

For more about the School of Business and Computer Technologies, visit online or call (570) 327-4517.

For general information about Penn College, visit on the Web, e-mail or call toll-free (800) 367-9222.