With a loan from Lakota Funds, Louis Young was able to build Arrow Barber Shop, where he now gives hair cuts to the residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Free Tax Preparation
Lakota Funds hosts an annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site that provides free income tax preparation to residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. During tax season a VITA site is offered during normal business hours during the week at the Lakota Funds offices in Kyle, and a mobile VITA site travels throughout the nine reservation districts to offer free tax preparation by IRS-certified volunteers reservation wide.
RALs and EITC
Lakota Funds' VITA site not only saves individuals and families the cost of commercial tax preparation, but offers alternatives to Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs) and promotes the use of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Some people are tempted to take out a RAL as a quicker way to obtain their tax refund, but what they may not realize is they can end up paying an incredibly high interest rate over 180 percent as well as high processing fees. Sometimes the actual refund isn't even enough to pay off the RAL once the fees and interest are tacked on. Lakota Funds urges our community members to make wise choices during tax time. Our VITA site offers e-filing, a system in which taxpayers can receive their refund in 7-12 days.
The EITC is one of the most underutilized tax credits available and has the potential to bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to our community. It lifts more children out of poverty than any other single program or category of programs. Lakota Funds' VITA site volunteers ensure taxpayers maximize their tax refunds by claiming the EITC.
VITA Brings $ to Our Local Economy
In tax year 2010 Lakota Funds' certified VITA volunteers prepared 245 free tax returns for individuals and families on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation resulting in over $453,000 in refunds, with an average refund of $1,849. Earned Income Tax Credits comprised $227,344 of that total. In addition, Lakota Funds estimates these families saved over $50,225 in potential tax preparation fees. By increasing income to working families, the VITA program directly affects the family’s or individual’s ability to become and remain financially stable.