Fairfield County volunteers who prepared more than 3,400 tax returns for area residents at community centers, libraries, nonprofit organizations and schools throughout the area were honored last Wednesday at an end-of-season celebration in Norwalk.

Trained volunteers prepared tax returns at 16 locations to save local residents $515,000 in tax preparation fees and bringing millions of dollars back into the community through tax credits and refunds.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance is "more than just free tax preparation,” said James Horan, executive director of the Connecticut Association for Human Services, the organization that coordinates the assistance campaign in the county. “It ensures that working families have access to valuable tax credits without having to pay high fees.”

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is a nationwide initiative serving the county since 2004. It provides free federal and state tax return preparation to low- and middle-income households. The program also connects families to other free services that provide them with tools to leverage tax refunds into long-term financial stability.

Volunteers keep the program going, said Ron Peruzzi of the Internal Revenue Service. Before volunteers can prepare tax returns, they must undergo rigorous training and testing to become IRS certified. “Many of our volunteers have full-time jobs, but somehow still find the time to volunteer,” said Peruzzi. “Their service and dedication have truly made a difference in the lives of working families.”

Do you know someone who volunteered with the tax assistance program or who benefited from it? Comment below or send responses to