A program kicking off next year will make it easier for low-income residents to receive tax credits.

The city of High Point and United Way of Greater High Point have partnered to offer the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, offering free income tax preparation for low -- and moderate-income residents with a focus on getting those eligible the maximum tax credits possible.

"VITA tries to make sure fi lers get every credit they're eligible for. The largest is the Earned Income Tax Credit ... it's up to $4,000 back," said Desha Williams, who is coordinating the program for the United Way. "It tries to target low- and moderate-income individuals so they're not going to paid preparers. They can get their taxes done for free and still get every tax credit due to them."

Every year, thousands of people miss tax credits and money they could have received.

Williams said in 2003, more than 5,000 city residents were eligible for tax credits that they didn't claim, resulting in a total loss of more than $11 million.

The program is volunteerdriven. Already more than 20 people have volunteered as tax preparers, but more are needed for tax preparations, check-in and child care. The only requirement for anyone interested in volunteering is that they be dependable, friendly and helpful. The program will provide tax preparation training, Williams said.

Volunteers can set their own schedules but are asked to spend at least four to 10 hours with the program during the four-month tax season.

"It's a wonderful community program. We need as many volunteers as possible," she said. "Anything people can do, we would appreciate it, just to help get the program off the ground."

kkramp@hpe.com|888-3536

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Copyright (c) 2006, High Point Enterprise, N.C.

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