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Ann O'Brien Schmieg

By Ann O'Brien Schmieg

It’s Tax Time!

Wed, February 06, 2013

It's Tax Time

Every tax season, thousands of people leave thousands of dollars on the table in the form of valuable tax credits. For example, according to the IRS, one in five eligible individuals does not claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) — which can be a big boost to family budgets — simply because they do not file their taxes or are unaware that they qualify to receive it. This year, don’t take that chance — take advantage of free tax preparation services.

“I didn’t realize I was going to spend that much money by hiring someone to file my taxes,” Janean Williams says. “Especially when I realized that I could have my taxes filed for free, the $300 I’ve spent in the past could have been better used for transportation or groceries.” Janean is a mother and wife like so many community members who aren’t aware of all tax benefits and refunds available to them. For the first time this year, she will be participating in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program through which specially trained volunteers will help her file her taxes free of charge and ensure Janean receives the full refund available.

The VITA program is a locally-run IRS-supported tax preparation service that is free for families and individuals making a total household income of less than $51,000 per year. Tax preparation done right can result in valuable tax credits, like the EITC for low-income workers — worth up to $5,891, which can make a big difference in an annual family budget.

VITA volunteers provide individuals like Janean with free one-on-one tax filing support at tax assistance sites throughout the region. In fact, last year, more than 20,000 tax returns were filed through VITA, returning approximately $28.5 million to local communities. For a complete listing of tax sites in your county and additional information on eligibility, visit www.unitedforimpact.org/VITA. For those that prefer to file their state and federal taxes for free online and have a household income of below $57,000, please visit United Way’s My Free Taxes website.

This tax season, don’t leave valuable dollars on the table. Stay informed about tax services available to you and spread the word to your family and friends!