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    Posted March 8, 2010

VITA Opens for 34th Season

(L-R) Amy Connor, AEA Sec/Treas Sandra Karas, volunteer Leonard Garbin
All photos: Stephanie Masucci

On Monday, February 1, 2010, a long line began forming before dawn at the Equity Office in New York. "I arrived at approximately 4:20 a.m. and was number three in line," said AEA member Charles Hendricks. This is his third year of having his taxes prepared by VITA (Equity's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program).

Now in its 34th season, VITA NY is the only IRS-sanctioned tax assistance program in the country specializing in performers' tax returns. Each year, VITA prepares thousands of complex federal, state and local tax returns for more than 1,800 AEA, AFTRA and SAG members. VITA volunteers will provide free tax assistance from now through April 24 and every Thursday thereafter except holidays.

"VITA is a great program, and I am grateful free tax preparation is provided by my Union-especially since an actor's tax return is so complex. I am also grateful to Paul, who got up so early to take our names so we didn't have to wait outside in 25 degrees," said AEA member Steve Sherman.

AEA members Nick Ruggeri and Susan L. Jacks have been coming to VITA for several years. "We used to go to a commercial preparer, but switched to VITA for a couple of reasons. Of course, we're saving money on tax prep fees, but more importantly, we feel more comfortable and confident working with VITA. The volunteers know more about 'the business' and the kinds of deductions that actors are allowed to make. We're never rushed and, as actors, they genuinely care. VITA is just an extension of everything else the Union does for us and there's a real community spirit in the room."

Nick Ruggeri and Susan L. Jacks

Anthony Morelli and volunteer Carol Emshoff

Steve Massa and volunteer Andrea McCullough

AEA member Charles Hendricks (number 3 inline at 4:20 a.m.)

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