Trinfo.Café will host a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) clinic for the third year, opening on February 9th. “Like everything else, VITA is going to look different this year,” reports Serena Laws, referring to new contactless procedures for dropping off tax documents and conducting client sessions via phone. Laws is Senior Lecturer in Political Science and an IRS-trained Trinfo VITA clinic site supervisor. The students in her course POLS 310: Tax Policy and Inequality in Hartford are trained as IRS-certified tax preparers, and last year prepared taxes for 199 clients. “The students learn so much about how policy works on the ground and how difficult it is to make ends meet as a lower wage worker in Connecticut right now,” says Laws.
In addition to free tax preparation services, a free tax return printing service will be offered at the Trinfo VITA site this year. This important service will allow people who have their taxes prepared at one of almost twenty VITA clinics in the Hartford region to print their returns at Trinfo. The VITA clinic at the Village for Families and Children pivoted to a virtual format in spring 2020. Even in the virtual format, “people want a printed copy of their return, and in some cases they need it,” explains Laws. VITA clients who wanted a printed return had to go to a store like Staples. Clients faced challenges operating the printers, paying for printing, and potentially exposing themselves to COVID-19 by going into the store.
This year, Hartford region VITA clients can make an appointment at Trinfo for contactless tax return printing, instead of going to the store. “This is a tremendous service we can offer fairly easily that feels like a wonderful fit for us,” says Laws. In addition, Laws notes that “since we are trying to grow the reputation of this clinic, having this service will let people know we are here. Maybe next year they will come to our clinic or tell their friends who live closer to the clinic that this is a place they can get their taxes done.”
Laws looks forward to working with students and clients at the VITA clinic at Trinfo this year. “We want to provide as much continuity [with past years’ VITA clinics] as we can. We’ve been able to build year on year. Last year we did more returns than we did the year before even though we had to cut our season off on March 13th. I anticipate we will complete even more returns this year.”
The clinic hours will be Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, 10am-2pm from February 9th through April 15. Appointments can be made for a tax document drop-off or printing pick-up through 211, or https://www.211ct.org/. For more information about VITA in Connecticut, visit https://unitedwayinc.org/myrefund/.
Featured photo by Nick Caito, Winter 2019.