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Get Your Taxes Prepared Free at Our VITA Sites
United Way of Lancaster County’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, VITA, will expand in 2012 to reach more low-to-moderate income taxpayers thanks to a $54,700 grant from the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS grant, the first the program has received, is one of 213 the federal agency awarded to organizations nationwide for the 2012 tax preparation year.
Now in its fifth year in Lancaster County, VITA offers free federal, state and local tax return preparation for qualified* wage earners whose household income in 2011 was $50,000 or less.
More than 125 local volunteers trained by the IRS will prepare tax returns at no charge for qualified taxpayers at 18 locations in Lancaster County. The free tax preparation sites will open on different dates starting in mid-January and early February, with some offering evening and weekend appointments.
Appointments are required and can be made starting Tuesday, Jan. 3, by dialing 2-1-1, United Way of Lancaster County’s Information and Referral Center.
“With the federal grant, we will be able to reach more clients, especially the underserved populations in the county,” says Tom Clingan, United Way Director of Financial Stability and Homelessness. “We will open more free tax sites throughout Lancaster County, provide additional computers to file electronic returns, and have a full-time VITA coordinator to efficiently train volunteers, manage the program, and expand our outreach efforts.”
Last year, the VITA program operated in 14 locations, served 2,193 Lancaster County taxpayers, resulted in about $2.2 million in tax refunds and tax credits, and saved clients more than $400,000 in tax preparation fees. According to Clingan, the goal in 2012 is to serve at least 2,500 local taxpayers.
“VITA is a key program of United Way, designed to help low-to-moderate income individuals and families keep more of their hard-earned money by avoiding tax preparation fees and maximizing the amount of their tax refunds,” according to Clingan.