The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program helps lower income individuals and families fill out their tax returns – enabling them to meet their tax obligations and obtain the maximum refund for which they are eligible.  It is under the umbrella of the IRS and works closely with the Minnesota Department of Revenue.  The program is operated by volunteers who are sponsored by either 125 Live or Salvation Army.

Tax preparation and electronic filing is free.  Help is provided at three major sites in Rochester (Salvation Army, 123 Live, Hawthorne Education Center), one in Stewartville and one in Dodge County, and volunteers travel to various senior facilities in Rochester and surrounding communities.  Assistance is provided to approximately 4000 taxpayers, representing over 3400 families, and volunteers donate over 10,000 hours (including training).  Sites are open from early February to mid-April, as well as for limited dates at selected sites in the summer.

To obtain assistance:
Call 287-1958, a number set up by the United Way to help with scheduling appointments.  Even if a person is not required to file an income tax return, there are refunds available on the federal and state income tax forms in addition to a special rent/property tax refund.  If you have any problems making contact or getting an appointment, e-mail Ella VanLaningham or call 507-884-9165.

To volunteer:
Please e-mail Kathy Brutinel for information or call.  Volunteers are provided with detailed training and mentoring.  Positions are available to:

  • Assist taxpayers in the preparation of tax forms and electronically file the completed forms.
  • Schedule appointments after discussing options with callers.
  • Serve as a receptionist at one of our sites, welcoming and signing-in people with appointments.
  • Help check in people at sites, sorting their documents and determining whether they have everything they need for the preparer to be able to complete their returns with them.

Are you good with numbers and computers? Do you want to help low-income people file accurate returns and maximize their tax benefits? Do you champion economic justice? If so, you should consider joining the VITA program, which is recruiting volunteers for the 2022 tax year. This program is a community service supported by our Social Justice Council.

Tax Preparers are trained in federal and MN taxes and devote 4 to 16 hours each week from Feb 1 to April 15 to meeting with taxpayers and preparing returns.  Orientation is on November 4 or 16 and training takes place in December and January.  Greeters, who welcome taxpayers and get them ready to meet with the Preparers, receive training in January.

This program is sponsored by Salvation Army and 125 Live, with the support of the United Way of Olmsted County.  Last year 8 UU’s volunteered as Tax Preparers and 1 as a Greeter. If you are interested in joining this challenging, fascinating, and rewarding program or have any questions about it, please contact Kathy Brutinel at kathybrutinel@gmail.com.

Updated October 21, 2022