From the Archive: Late filers laud ‘invaluable’ help as Free Tax Prep and VITA volunteers end the 2013 tax season

From left, Jo Ann Wash, Geraldine Hunter-Gaddes, Karen Smith-Clark and Brenda Spraggins (not pictured, Andrew Wright)

From left, Jo Ann Wash, Geraldine Hunter-Gaddes, Karen Smith-Clark and Brenda Spraggins (not pictured, Andrew Wright)

United Way’s Free Tax Prep site at the Cossitt Library location was busy as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) workers were busy assisting late tax filers last week. People turned up in big numbers to take advantage of this valuable service.

Volunteers report that “over 140 years” worth of taxes were either filed or amended in the short time the Cossitt Library site in downtown Memphis helped late tax filers this year.

One filer said he thought the site was “an invaluable service.”

“I had not filed in 9 years,” he said. “I have filed with paid tax preparers and stood in long IRS lines, trying to come out of this hole that I had gotten myself into. I even tried to fix it all on my own. Then I was pointed towards this United Way Free Tax Prep site.”

Geraldine Hunter-Gaddes, Karen Smith-Clark, Brenda Spraggins, Jo Ann Wash and Andrew Wright were the VITA volunteers helping last-minute tax filers and people needing to file amended taxes.

“We have been seeing three basic tax needs now,” Smith-Clark said. “We’ve had some folks file their taxes from all the way back to 2005. People are also coming in for amending errors on their taxes. And, we were also filing for people who missed the 2013 deadline in April.”

One filer had to receive help from volunteers in the very last hours the Cossitt site was open because she needed her taxes amended.

“It was complicated,” she said. “I had been standing in IRS lines before I learned that I could get this help. It was a wonderful service and most definitely worth my time.”

For many people needing tax help after the April 15 deadline, there is a feeling of helplessness or embarrassment in seeking help to resolve their tax situation. Thanks to the work of VITA and United Way’s after-season Free Tax Prep station, many people received the help they needed to file their taxes safely, correctly, and without cost.

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