Pisgah Legal volunteer, Martha Ziegler (L), helping people file their taxes at a Pisgah Legal EITC outreach event in Pritchard Park, downtown Asheville


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said that “life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”  Pisgah Legal volunteer Martha Ziegler answers that question by helping people access their tax benefits as a VITA Certified tax preparer with Pisgah Legal’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program. This program provides free tax preparation for qualified tax-filers earning $57,000 or below.

“I work with clients that cannot afford to have their taxes done, but who qualify for many tax credits and this year, the stimulus payments. For many people who didn’t file a 2019 tax return, they didn’t receive their stimulus payments. These payments can add up to $1,800 or more– that’s enough to change lives.”

As a retired CPA, Martha understands how complicated the tax system can be, so when it was time to decide where she was going to volunteer, Pisgah Legal’s EITC Program was a perfect fit.

In April, Martha volunteered with Pisgah Legal in partnership with local non-profit, Beloved Asheville, assisting members of the homeless community and other marginalized populations to file their taxes and access benefits and stimulus payments.

“We can’t do this work without dedicated volunteers like Martha”, said Emily Ermer, VITA Site Coordinator for Pisgah Legal’s EITC program. “For the past two years, Martha has shared her knowledge and expertise to ensure that people receive all the tax benefits they are eligible for.”

“This year, filing taxes is more important than ever,” continues Emily. “There’s potentially thousands of dollars that can be claimed, but if the IRS doesn’t have your correct information, then the money doesn’t reach you. That is why we held multiple outreach events at local trailer park communities, a downtown park, and a Last Chance Tax Filing at our Asheville office so we could reach people directly. Martha was at each and every event, helping with paperwork and filing taxes for people.”

“It’s important to me to volunteer because I believe in fairness,” says Martha. “Volunteering with Pisgah Legal is a wonderful blend of where my greatest gift and the world’s greatest need come together.”