Volunteer Tax Assistance Program Prepares Nearly 1,000 Returns for Area Residents

Allegheny Students Participate as Tax Preparers

The Meadville Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) prepared 997 tax returns this year at no cost to area residents — despite a series of challenges stemming from a Jan. 31 fire that closed the Meadville Public Library, which served as home to the VITA program. The Meadville VITA program is a partnership between Allegheny College, the Meadville Public Library, and the IRS, and Allegheny students participate as tax preparers after receiving training.

Stephanie Martin, VITA program director and Allegheny College associate professor of economics, recounted how the community rallied together to help the program succeed this year:

    Famous preacher Billy Graham once said, “Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.” The January 31 fire that shut down the Meadville Public Library was a devastating blow to the community. Local libraries are often taken for granted, but libraries are an oasis of hope, imagination, creativity and fellowship. The Meadville Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), a free tax service for residents annually hosted by the library, was suddenly without a space to provide its service. Fortunately, the wealth of the Meadville community sprang forth from this adversity.
    I was overwhelmed by the broad support that the program received from local organizations. Heather Fish at Foundry CoWork assisted during the first week of tax preparation by offering use of their Conference Room. Library Director John Brice offered alternative work space for the program as well, but until they were able to fully establish the space for VITA, the Allegheny College Pelletier Library provided an amazing temporary space until the alternate work space was available. Active Aging, an organization for local senior citizens that annually provides work space for the program, extended its hours of availability for VITA as well. The United Way also utilized its networking support to help keep the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program afloat. I also would like to thank all of the organizations for their support and the local residents for their patience. Thank you for helping us overcome this adversity and for enriching the Meadville community.
    Even with the rocky start to the tax season Meadville VITA prepared 997 2017 federal tax returns this tax season, saving community members the need to pay for tax preparation and garnering over 1 million dollars in federal refunds for area residents. Meadville VITA would like to thank each of the student volunteers, clients, community organizations, and local media that support the program each year. If you have questions about VITA or would like to receive information on volunteering with VITA in the future, please email vita@allegheny.edu