ITHACA, N.Y. (6/26/08)--Taxpayers in the Ithaca, N.Y., area received more than $2 million in income tax returns, thanks to 79 volunteers from Alternatives FCU's Community Tax Program. The credit union's volunteers filed more than 1,200 federal tax returns, with an average $1,514 returned to taxpayers, and more than 1,200 state tax returns, for an additional $403, on average. The program, also known as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), helped low- and moderate-income working families for the sixth consecutive year. The tax preparation service is available from Alternatives for families whose household income is $40,000 or less annually or individuals whose annual income totals $25,000 or less. The credit union encouraged filers to direct-deposit their refunds and offered a low-cost solution to predatory refund anticipation loans. This year's Refund Express Loan saved 58 taxpayers a combined $11,500 in fees. The credit union cited two examples of how it helped taxpayers:
* Henry, a single father of two who worked four jobs last year but earned less than $7,000. He was not required to file a return because of low income in 2005 and 2006, which mean he didn't claim the earned income tax credit (EITC) he was entitled to for those years. The credit union filed returns for 2005, 2006 and 2007. He received $10,500 in refunds, or 150% of his annual income. * Hannah, a single mother of two and a self-employed housekeeper, nets about $6,000 a year. The credit union filed her returns for 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. After paying self-employment taxes owed, she received $8,100 in refunds--135% of her annual income.