Have you ever pored over your tax return for hours until your eyes glaze over and your head is pounding? Face it, filing your taxes can be stressful and intimidating. It doesn’t have to be that way.
United Way of Lancaster County is proud to once again offer free tax preparation services to residents of the county through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. Let me emphasize that word again. Yes, it is FREE!
The VITA Program is a powerful anti-poverty tool, providing free tax prep services to anyone earning less than $62,000 annually, ensuring that hard-working individuals and families receive the maximum tax benefits available without losing hundreds of dollars in paid-preparer fees. VITA believes in reducing the typical anxiety and frustration of tax time and replacing it with hope – the kind of hope to take advantage of the opportunity that tax refunds often provide to our clients to invest in their future.
Last year, United Way’s VITA Program volunteers filed 8,720 tax returns, a 16% increase over the prior year. The goal this tax season is to serve more than 10,000 taxpayers, another double-digit percentage gain. VITA’s tireless volunteers saved local taxpayers $2.3 million in tax preparation fees and secured refunds of $11.4 million dollars, number that will grow this year with the increase in filed returns. These savings and refunds are a financial windfall that allow people to save, invest and work toward financial stability.
At the heart of the VITA Program are the dedicated volunteers who make it all possible. All volunteers are required to become IRS certified following their training sessions. Their extensive training will help you sort through the paperwork, maximize your return and provide free income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. Volunteers have also been trained to ensure that qualified taxpayers take advantage of all special tax provisions such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
The EITC helps qualified working families keep more of the money they earn. EITC brings billions of dollars in refunds to qualified taxpayers nationwide, helping to subsidize family income and further drive the local economy.
An IRS grant and United Way of Lancaster County provide the majority of funding for the program. In addition, local funding for the VITA Program is provided by sponsors Fulton Bank, PNC Bank and Ephrata National Bank, all of whom are working diligently to help advance the financial literacy of Lancaster County residents.
So, don’t put yourself through the stress of trying to navigate through complex tax schedules and forms. It’s not too late to maximize your tax refund and take advantage of this FREE service. There is still time for United Way of Lancaster County’s VITA Program to prepare your taxes. Dial 2-1-1 to make an appointment at one of the 15 locations in Lancaster County or visit freetaxpreplancaster.org for more information.
This Story That Unites Us was written by:
President & CEO
United Way of Lancaster County