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About 33 years ago, state auditor Bill Perry and an IRS representative sat down at a card table in the Rock Hill Mall and began offering free tax assistance to anyone who needed it.
In the years since, Perry and other volunteers in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program have offered income tax preparation assistance to thousands of people in York County.
“I’m just a volunteer giving back to the community, because it’s a wonderful thing to do, and taxes being as stressful as they are and complicated,” said Perry, now retired from the state Department of Revenue.
The program has grown over the years. Perry now oversees a VITA program that has 20 volunteers at four different sites, including one in Clover. Last year, he said, the program helped about 2,000 individuals or families.
The VITA program will continue once again this year, offering free income tax preparation with the help of IRS-trained volunteers at scheduled times at the following York County locations:
Clover Public Library 107 Knox St., Clover, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays only, Feb. 2 to 23.
• Rock Hill City Hall Wellness Center 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Jan. 28 to April 15.
• Rock Hill Galleria, 2301 Dave Lyle Blvd., Rock Hill, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays only, Feb. 2 to 23.
• Leroy Springs Recreation Complex, 971 Tom Hall St., Fort Mill 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays only, Feb. 2 to 23.
Perry said the program does not have a location in York yet, but he said they are hoping to have one.
He said volunteers are certified to prepare South Carolina, North Carolina and federal individual and family income tax returns. They do not prepare business returns, he said.
He said the service is provided on a first-come, first-served basis. People who come to the site are asked to fill out a form that provides some general tax information. They then are asked to sit down with a trained representative who will prepare the return.
Each return is filed electronically.
Remember to bring a copy of your most recent tax return, a Social Security card for yourself and any dependents, a photo ID, statements of income such as W2 forms and any financial records from the past year, including medical expenses, alimony and child support payments and charitable contributions.
People who want the service should bring a copy of their most recent tax return, a Social Security card for each member of the household, a photo ID, statements of income such as current W-2 and 1099 forms, and any other financial records for the past year, including records for dividends and interest, medical expenses, alimony and child support payments and charitable contributions.
If a refund is due, he said, they should bring a voided check for the account where the refund should be deposited.
Perry said the service is geared to people who have an average income, which is about $51,000. However, he said the program won’t turn away those who ask for assistance.
“We would help anyone, if they come in and want help, we’re going to help them as best we can, preparing their returns and also transmitting it and getting their refund back,” he said.
He said all the tax returns are prepared by the volunteers as people wait. “When they leave here, they’ve got a completed tax return and it will be transmitted today,” Perry said.
Volunteers are not considered professional tax preparers and are not held legally responsible for the returns they prepare.
For more information about the service, call South Carolina Department of Revenue at 803-324-7641 or Bill Perry, York County coordinator, at 803-322-4195.