As Tax Season and National Library Week come to a close in 2019 (April 15 and April 13, respectively), we reflect on the importance of providing tax help to our community.
At three of Madison Public Library’s locations, Central, Lakeview, and Sequoya, Free Tax Assistance was offered 48 days this year. Of those 48 days, 46 of them were entirely full with appointments. The demand for tax assistance is clearly demonstrated as 2018 taxes were filed in incredible numbers at Madison Public Library.
Tax Assistance is made possible by the partnership between Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and Madison Public Library. VITA is an IRS program that provides free tax services to people who typically make less than $55,000 a year, people with disabilities, and people who may need aid filing their taxes as a non-native English speaker. IRS-certified volunteers are able to serve in places like the Lakeview Library and work along Library staff who provide meeting spaces and support, ensuring taxes are filed correctly and comfortably for all citizens.
Without VITA, many households would pay an average of $200 for tax filing software or services. Thanks to Tax Assistance at Madison’s libraries, those fees are waived. Over the 2017 tax season, a total of $325,425 was saved in fees -- those are funds that can stay in the pockets of families and hard working Madisonians!
2017 tax assistance events provided significant tax refunds to our community. At four locations - Lakeview, Central, Pinney, and Sequoya - there were 1,965 appointments made during the tax season. From those nearly two thousand appointments, the average refund per household was $1,013. In total $1,740,808 was refunded. For an individual whose income is $28,000 a year (the average adjusted income for citizens who participated in 2017), an additional thousand dollars can go a long way.
Aside from the initial savings, tax assistance has other benefits, too. “There are many examples of individuals who bring tax forms from previous years and who, consequently, are no longer in arrears and typically see a multi-year refund. By working together to provide access to tax assistance, Madison Public Library is making a tangible difference for people,” says Michael Spelman, Supervisor at Madison’s Central Library.
Thank you to VITA volunteers, Madison Public Library staff, and citizens for your participation in Tax Assistance days for the 2018 (and past) tax season. We hope to have another $1.7 million retained in the Madison economy and in the pockets of those who work hard in this community.