LANSING – State Representative Winnie Brinks (Grand Rapids) shared information today about free taxpayer services for people in households that earned less than $55,000 in 2012. The service is offered through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, and assists people in filing federal and state income tax returns.

“As Grand Rapids families sit down to prepare their taxes this year, they are going to realize that a lot of credits and deductions that they used to rely upon are reduced or gone, including the Homestead Property Tax Exemption Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit and $600 per-child deduction,” Brinks said. “The number of changes can make completing a tax return and getting the largest tax refund possible confusing. VITA volunteers can help, and thankfully, their help is free.”

In Kent County, help can be obtained through the Kent County Tax Credit Coalition. To schedule an appointment, call 2-1-1, or visit their website at to learn more. Unlike some services advertised on television or radio, there is no catch to this program, and VITA’s IRS-trained and certified volunteers won’t try to push a rapid refund loan or charge any kind of filing fee.

“VITA brings help to Grand Rapids families at several locations around the city, including The Source, where I used to work,” Brinks said. “I’ve seen firsthand how VITA saves families thousands of dollars — money that is put back into our local economy when families use refunds to shop at local stores.”