With tax season approaching, local groups are continuing to support IRS programs that offer free income tax services for low-income and elderly local residents.
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.
That program has been helping York County residents 1989, said program coordinator Elyshia Menkin.
"It's a countrywide program," she said. "It's so the money they earn, they get to keep in their pocket."
The program is available to those who make less than $50,000 per year. That's up from the $49,000 maximum last year.
By raising the income limits, and offering appointments Mondays through Saturdays, Menkin said the program hopes to see an increase over the 2,700 York County residents assisted last year.
Menkin said some of the refunds they help filers obtain are from earned income tax and child care credits that are tricky to figure out without help.
"Usually these people would not be able to complete their taxes on their own and they'd have to go to a paid preparer," she said.
The services are provided by local volunteers who have passed the IRS certification exam. Volunteers use TaxWise, an online program provided by the IRS.
Menkin said the program has about 75 volunteers, but is still looking for more people interested in helping.
Helping: John Freed, 61, from Felton, started volunteering for the program last year after doing similar work for the York Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
VITA's former coordinator worked down the hall from the center and introduced him to the program. After becoming certified, the retired computer programmer took on the second volunteering job.
"Basically it's meeting people and being able to help them," he said. "It'll be between 15 and 20 hours a week up until probably end of tax season. ... It's a way of getting me out and doing things instead of sitting at the house."
For those who don't fall under the $50,000 income bracket, the AARP offers its own free tax counseling program for those ages 60 and older.
Those interested can call one of sixteen local locations that will be offering the services through April.
Those interested in taking advantage of the VITA program should call the central number, 717-854-2244, to schedule an appointment.
Menkin said people should wait until they receive all their income documents to schedule appointments.
VITA program services will be available at several locations in the York area, including:
Community Progress Council Inc., 226 E. College Ave.
United Way of York County, 800 E. King St.
York Benevolent Association, 301 Kings Mill Road.
White Rose Credit Union, 1529 Rodney Road or 3498 Industrial Highway.
AARP services will be available at several locations including:
York County Area Agency on Aging, (771-9042), 100 W. Market St. # 1.
Messiah United Methodist Church, (771-9042), 1300 N. Beaver St.
York Alliance Church, (771-9042), 501 Rathton Road.
Aldersgate United Methodist Church, (771-9042), 397 Tyler Run Road.
Yorktown Senior Center, (854-0693), 509 Pacific Ave.
White Rose Senior Center, (843-9704), 27 S. Broad St. # 1.