The local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program received one call per minute when its phone lines opened in January.

Now, the program receives one call every five minutes, said Kenneth Watts, who oversees VITA as program director of social and specialty services at the Lutheran Social Services of South Central Pa.

"A lot of people in need of funds have either used our programs or got their taxes filed already," he said. "From this point, we won't see the volume of calls pick up at all."

About a dozen local schools and businesses are working with Lutheran Social Services of South Central Pennsylvania to sponsor the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

VITA offered at 10 sites throughout York County -- serves individuals and families with a household income of $51,000 or less in 2012. Through VITA, taxpayers can file federal, state and local tax returns at no cost.

However, the program does not serve taxpayers with military or clergy incomes, or those who own rental property or are self-employed with more than $10,000 in annual expenses.

The volunteer tax preparers have received training and passed an IRS certification examination, Watts said.

So far, the program has received at least 1,135 calls for help with federal taxes. VITA is on pace to complete at least 2,700 filings for the year, Watts said.


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The program averages between that number and 3,000 returns annually, with each filing taking about an hour to complete, he said.

Though the volume of phone calls has decreased, the 55 volunteers remain busy keeping up with appointments scheduled up to three weeks after the initial calls, he said.

"The program does rely heavily on volunteers," Watts said. "They enable people to have taxes prepared at no cost. That puts money in (taxpayers') pockets to use for basic needs for their families."