TEMPLE — By early last week, Temple’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program had filed more than 350 e-filed tax returns and six paper returns, and it had helped local individuals get back more than $621,889 in refunds and $238,010 in earned income tax credits.

“That’s a lot of money going back into our economy,” said Joel Crenshaw, VITA volunteer.

The VITA program offers free tax help to people who make $52,000 or less per year and need assistance preparing their tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities. They can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify such as earned income tax credit, child tax credit, and credit for the elderly or the disabled.

On Tuesday, three volunteers were ready to help anyone who came in looking for assistance. The volunteers come from all walks of life.

Lots of returns come in during January and February, but it starts to slow down in March, Crenshaw said.

“Most of the people we see are people interested in getting refunds, especially earned income tax credit income,” he said.

VITA hours are from 5 to 8 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at the United Way Center for Philanthropy, Leadership, and Volunteerism, 604 N. Third St. in Temple.

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