If you stop by the Ardmore Public Library on Tuesday or Thursday during tax season, you might run into McClain and Vonya Lang.
The Langs each spend over 140 hours every year helping people through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. VITA is an IRS-sponsored program that offers free tax assistance to people who make less than $54,000 per year. Through the program, IRS-certified volunteers prepare tax returns then e-file them.
“The library is very gracious to allow us to be in their computer lab. So those days that we’re in there, there is nobody else,” Vonya said about the program’s arrangement with the library.
McClain has been volunteering his time to the program for going on 25 years and has been program coordinator for the past two tax seasons after the Ardmore site took a hiatus.
“I started it back up a couple years ago after the man who’d been running it passed away,” McClain said. “The first year we helped 111 people, and this year we helped 189.” That figure climbs even higher when you include the 40 or so individuals who just stopped by for information and did not have VITA actually prepare their return.
“I think we were very blessed to help as many people as we did this year. Next year we hope to help even more,” Vonya said.
“It’s a free service, so I don’t know why more people don’t do it,” McClain  said. “A lot of people don’t want to use it because they don’t want to make appointments, and they don’t like to have to sit there and wait.” However, this is not the case as VITA takes both appointments and walk ins.
Another thing that would allow the program to help even more people would be the assistance of more volunteers to prepare the tax returns.
“When I first started doing it, there were 8 or 10 of us,” McClain explained. “It’s down to me and her now.” Anyone interested in helping out has no need to be afraid joining the team.
“For people that want to learn, they’d start out on basic income tax,” McClain said. “Just very simple things.”
That’s not to say that just anyone off the street can prepare tax returns. There are a few tests required to become a volunteer, and volunteers need to make sure they stay current on the tenets of the program.
“They have to take a standards of conduct test which says that they will not accept any kind of money, and that they won’t discriminate against anybody,” McClain explained.
“Another test is about how you classify certain returns. Head of household, single, things like that,” Vonya said.
“I was a social worker with DHS for 21 years, so income tax wasn’t my passion,” Vonya laughed. However, with some studying passing the tests were no problem so others need not fear.
For more information about the program or to find out how to sign up to volunteer visit www.irs.gov and search VITA.