Since 2006, White Earth Investment Initiative has hosted a free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site at the Shooting Star Casino where taxpayers can have their returns prepared at no charge by trained community volunteers. In 2020, WEII’s VITA sites prepared more than 500 federal returns and facilitated the return of nearly $1 million to the community by way of federal tax refunds in addition to collectively saving taxpayers more than $121,000 in tax preparation fees. In addition to operating its site at the Shooting Star Casino, WEII added a new site in Pine Point during the 2020 tax filing season.
Community volunteers are the key to the success of the VITA program. Volunteers help low- and moderate-income community members meet their tax obligations quickly and easily. Many VITA clients qualify for important tax credits – such as the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit – as well as the Minnesota Working Family Tax Credit and K-12 Education Subtraction and Credit. Tax filers may also be eligible for federal educational tax credits like the American Opportunity Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit. VITA volunteers strive to make sure taxpayers receive all of the tax credits they are eligible to receive.
“I hope to recruit four or five new community members to assist with tax preparation during the 2021 tax season,” said Sue Trnka, VITA Tax Director for WEII. “Volunteers receive specialized tax training and work directly with community members to complete their returns accurately and confidentially. All training is provided by White Earth Investment Initiative in December and January. The returns we complete are not complex, and volunteers are fully supported by our staff. Anyone who is interested in helping should reach out for more information soon. Our volunteers have a lot of fun and have a huge impact in our communities.”
White Earth Investment Initiative is currently planning its volunteer training and tax delivery services for the 2021 tax season. Trnka anticipates that training and tax services will be provided in new formats for the coming year – including some virtual formats – in order to ensure the safety and comfort of volunteers and taxpayers in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Information about tax site schedules and delivery methods will be made available to the public in December.
For more information about becoming a VITA volunteer, email Sue Trnka or contact her at 218-844-7029.
The tax site is a service of the White Earth Investment Initiative and is made possible by Shooting Star Casino, Hotel & Event Center, Pine Point Community Council, Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation, the Internal Revenue Service, Minnesota Department of Revenue, Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition, and Prosperity Now.