How’s this for economic impact?
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program in Columbus will prepare federal and state returns for roughly 2,300 residents this year. And those filings will generate more than $3 million in refunds.
“That’s the great thing about it. Every bit of it comes right back into our area and helps folks save money and stimulate the local economy as well,” said Rob Pitts, chairman of the local VITA program. He’s also program director with the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of West Georgia/East Alabama.
The kicker: VITA is a free program for those households making $51,000 per year or less.
But with the tax-filing deadline looming on Monday (April 15), time is precious. Thus, Pitts urges those who have yet to file their returns — and who fall under that $51,000 threshold — to head to the Goodwill Success Center, 2601 Cross Country Drive, Building A, off Macon Road.
The center will be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday (a day the center is normally closed) to assist local residents with their returns on a walk-in, first-come-first-served basis.
“Everybody is trained on software provided by the IRS and everybody at this point in the year has been doing it for awhile,” Pitts said. “And we’ve got quality review people on site. So all returns are looked at by a second person before they’re sent off.”
Another VITA location operated by the Columbus Baptist Association at Mission Columbus, 3679 Steam Mill Road, also will be preparing returns 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Pitts said.
For those not able to use the VITA centers, the Internal Revenue Service office in Columbus will be open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday. But, remember, the office relocated from Macon Road to 6068 Business Park Drive, Suite 124, off Gateway Road, in November. Its services are free as well.
Finally, all tax returns mailed through the U.S. Postal Service must be postmarked by 11:59 p.m. Monday. A check with the postal service shows the final mail collection time for the main office at 3916 Milgen Road on Monday is 8 p.m. The office at 1310 9th Ave. in Phenix City will make its final pickup Monday at 5 p.m.
Pitts stressed that procrastinators should not ignore the IRS and its deadline. Taxpayers are allowed to file a six-month extension to get everything together. Anyone who feels they owe money should submit that amount with the extension request.
“One of the things that upsets them is when they don’t hear anything from you,” Pitts said. “They want something.”
Here are the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites and the IRS location that will be open Monday in Columbus. They are available to households with annual income of $51,000 or less and require no appointment:
Goodwill Success Center — 2601 Cross Country Drive, Building A, off Macon Road. Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday. Call 706-256-1837
Mission Columbus (Columbus Baptist Association) — 3679 Steam Mill Road. Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday. Call 706-322-7757
Internal Revenue Service — 6068 Business Park Drive, Suite 124, off Gateway Road. Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday. Call 706-494-9079