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DHS Announces Virtual Tax Preparation

Post Date:03/31/2020 9:00 AM

The Department of Human Services has announced that, in light of the current COVID-19 distancing guidelines, VITA, the free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, is now offering virtual tax preparation to residents without in-person contact.

Human Services Finance Manager and certified volunteer tax preparer, Susan Stefenson, expressed gratitude to the individuals who have made the program possible.  “The volunteers, led by Westport resident Mark Spivack, are the same group of trusted IRS-Certified Tax Preparers that have provided these services to Westporters for many years.” 

The new virtual platform is available to taxpayers by connecting them via a secure portal to a remote certified tax preparer.  The site and requisite document exchange mechanisms are encrypted for safety, and the methodology conforms to IRS policy and procedures.

Mark Spivack, a long-time champion of the free tax-prep program, added, “The concept originated at Yale University and then was substantially modified to the needs of Westport and Lower Fairfield County tax filers by local VITA volunteers.”

Stefenson noted, “This is a wonderful example of agencies coming together to provide vital services during turbulent times. Despite the challenges that we all face as a community, many should rest assured that our most committed volunteers will continue to offer essential services to residents.  Furthermore, an extension of the US tax-filing deadline to July 15 gives taxpayers more time in response to the pandemic.”

Participants will need a smartphone or a computer, access to Wi-Fi, and a working phone number and email address to complete their return.  The simple process includes an online intake survey, the uploading of tax forms, and a phone or video appointment.  A tax counselor will confirm receipt of documents and prepare the return, followed by a second counselor who will perform a quality review before e-filing. 

To find out more about and to access this service, please go to the link on the Town of Westport website: https://www.westportct.gov/government/departments-a-z/human-services/tax-preparation-assistance-online

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