March 10 is VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Awareness Day! Find a tax site near you here!
Across the nation, there are thousands of volunteer tax preparers serving low-to-moderate income (LMI) families and individuals to help them file their taxes for free and get the refunds they deserve by taking advantage of tax credits designed to lift families out of financial instability.
Many LMI families find themselves burdened by the cost of tax preparation fees, whether that means purchasing at-home software or going to a commercial tax preparer. The result is that individuals and families spend hundreds of dollars that could otherwise support financial stability by paying bills or putting food on the table.
VITA preparers make a big impact in poverty alleviation by not only saving families money, but by preparing their taxes accurately and ethically to ensure a maximum refund. United Way’s RealSense coordinates VITA tax preparation sites across our five county region, and focuses on making sure families that qualify receive the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
The Internal Revenue Service describes these credits as follows:
“The Child Tax Credit is for people who have a qualifying child as defined later. It is in addition to the credit for child and dependent care expenses and the earned income credit. The maximum amount you can claim for the credit is $1,000 for each qualifying child.”
“Earned Income Tax Credit is a benefit for working people who have low to moderate income. A tax credit means more money in your pocket. It reduces the amount of tax you owe and may also give you a refund.”
Hardworking families across our community work hard to achieve a quality life and provide opportunities for their children to live healthy, engaged and productive lives.
Because of VITA, RealSense has been able to make an even more significant impact in helping families become financially stable for the long term. Volunteer tax preparers serve at no cost, which allowed over 19,000 (8,000 of which were prepared through VITA programs) Northeast Florida households to save over $4.6 million in preparation fees. This represents $8 million in EITC dollars returned to our community to help the families who need it most.
We are thankful for our outstanding VITA volunteers supporting RealSense and our community’s quality of life.