Tax season is here, and with the deadline to file on April 18th fast approaching, we wanted to share some vital information about our local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and some other helpful tips and tricks to make filing your taxes easy and painless.
For those unfamiliar with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), it is a national program that assists households with income below $65,000 with local and free tax preparation services.
Tax time is a huge opportunity for community members to increase their financial well-being. In 2016, the JPMC Institute found that a tax refund represented the single largest cash infusion of the year for 40 percent of the 1.2 million families they researched.
Tax time is a huge opportunity for community members to increase their financial well-being.
Not only does VITA help individuals and families maximize their tax returns and keep more of their hard-earned money, but it also saves them real cash. In 2020, the average cost to have taxes prepared by a paid service was $294 for a simple return.
Add in any situation to make it more complex or toss in a tax credit or two, account for the rising cost of everything due to inflation – and the cost becomes exorbitant. For those experiencing poverty, that $294+ savings is significant and can keep them from making tough choices, like falling behind on rent to feed their family. Learn more about VITA and the incredible impact the program has had on our community by visiting the VITA page on our website.
Not only does VITA help individuals and families maximize their tax returns and keep more of their hard-earned money, but it also saves them real cash.
With for-profit companies like H&R Block and TurboTax working to corner the market with their “free and easy” tax preparation services, many individuals don’t know about the truly free tax filing options available to them. If you don’t live in an area serviced by VITA or want to file your return online, the IRS has a program called Free File, where people earning $73,000 a year or less can file their tax returns through free tax preparation software. The IRS partners with 11 online tax preparation companies, like ezTaxReturn.com and FileYourTaxes.com. Each has its own income and state eligibility requirements, so double-check before getting started.
Wherever you prefer to file, check out United Way’s website for a Tax Prep Checklist with a complete list of documents you’ll need to complete your tax return.
At United Way, our Financial Empowerment pillar provides general support, resources, and stability to our community partners. Your support makes our work possible. Consider giving a gift today to support critical programs like VITA.