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    Posted February 15, 2013

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IRS-Sponsored Tax Assistance Program for Performers Also Offered to Equity and SAG-AFTRA Members in Los Angeles and Orlando

On Monday, February 4, 2013, the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program opened its doors for its 37th annual season on the 14th Floor of the Actors’ Equity building in New York City. As always, a long line formed well before dawn with AEA and SAG-AFTRA members who braved the extremely brisk winter temps to seek out coveted appointments for complimentary tax return preparation by VITA’s hard-working and dedicated volunteers.

Headed by Director Sandra Karas, Equity’s Secretary-Treasurer, VITA is the only IRS-sponsored tax assistance program in the country specializing in performers' tax returns. Each year, the VITA NY team prepares thousands of complex federal, state and local tax returns for more than 2,000 union members. For the second year in a row, the VITA program is also being offered to AEA and SAG-AFTRA members in Los Angeles (courtesy of The Actors Fund), and in Orlando at Equity’s Central Florida office.

Member Stan Krajewski arrived at 3:40 am from the Upper East Side of Manhattan for VITA’s opening day and was the sixth person in line for tax return processing. “In every possible way, VITA took all my W-2's, 1099’s and just made sense of something that would otherwise have left me clueless. From the moment I walked in the door, VITA has provided an immeasurable service for our industry.”

AEA Member Amy Connor arrived at 6:15AM. Her first appointment with VITA was in 1987. (Pictured with Sandra Karas)

Member Amy Connor first learned about VITA in 1984 from an article in Backstage, using the published tips before she joined Equity. Connor muses, “As soon as I joined Equity, I became a VITA client. This is my 26th year. I've been with VITA longer than I've been with my husband!” Connor continued, “The volunteers understand performers' taxes in a way that no other tax preparer does. They have seen me through tax years with up to eight W-2's, foreign tour income, Broadway show income, an audit, unemployment, the purchase of two homes, a marriage, a divorce, another marriage, the addition of three dependents, child actor income, several career shifts (from performer to director to choreographer to costume designer and back again), and even a $60,000 game show win.”

Member Kim Rideout has "paid it forward" and heralded the VITA program to many young actors and new arrivals to Manhattan. Rideout says, “Being on your own and trying to figure out your taxes and all that goes along with being an actor is tough! It's nice to have someone guide you.” Rideout added, “The staff is knowledgeable. They are also volunteers. Be grateful. Be prepared. Don't waste their time - fill out those worksheets in advance! And, don't expect them to "fudge" like some private preparers - it isn't going to happen! No matter what your friends tell you their accountant does - VITA does it right.”

VITA volunteers Joan Shangold, Cayte Thorpe and J. Francis Curley

VITA’s opening day was coordinated by long-time program volunteer, Linda Carol Young, who not only arrived at 5:00 am, but devoted many hours to the advance prep for worksheets and forms, staffing, and management of the appointment sign-ups. Thanks to Linda’s dedicated efforts, everything ran smoothly and the team processed 49 tax returns.

Also special thanks to all of the tireless members of VITA’s volunteer staff: Toby Blackwell, Sandra M. Bloom, Bernadette Cancelliere, Kathleen Conry, J. Francis Curley, Kylie Delre, Betsy DiLellio, Magie Dominic, Carol Emshoff, Margaret A. Flanagan, Elizabeth Flax, Leonard Garbin, Brian Hargrove, Yvette Heyliger, Betty Hudson, Mark Irish, Marcia Kaufman, John LaGioia, Darrie Lawrence, Mike Lesser, Laurel Lockhart, Patricia Masters, Elliott Mayer, Joseph P. McDonnell, Michael McKenzie, Michael Mulheren, Jody Myers, Pat Nesbit, Nneoma Nkuku, Marchand Odette, Tony Paccione, Jody Prusan, Shelley Rosner, Stacey Scotte Carolyn Seiff, Michelle Seipel, Roger Seyer, Susan Sigrist, Jackie Slusser, Nancy Slusser, Gordon Stanley, Catherine Thorpe, John Tillotson, Carla Torgrimson, John Weigand, William White, and Joe Zaloom.

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