Written by Roger Luke, United Way of the Big Bend Wednesday, 11 April 2012 10:53
Haven’t filed taxes yet? No worries! Free tax-prep is still available through April 17.Volunteer Income Tax Assistance service has made tax season easier for 3,036 residents, still counting… it’s fast, free, easy.
What: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) service (free tax preparation and filing) is available to ALL individuals and families regardless of household income through April 17. This is an important component of UWBB’s BEST Project (Believe, Earn, Save, Thrive). The BEST Project, along with community partners, serves residents of the Big Bend through proactive and collaborative solutions to improve their long-term financial stability and quality of life.
Who: All residents in Leon, Gadsden, Jefferson, Madison, and Wakulla counties
When: Open through April 17
Where: To check out ALL of the convenient locations, dates, times, and what to bring to the tax site, visit www.theBESTproject.org/tax-help or dial 211.
The Wakulla County sites are:
Wakulla County Library *
4330 Crawfordville Highway, Crawfordville
Thursdays: 9:30am - 1:30pm
Saturdays: 9:30am - 12:30pm
Last day is April 14th
Wakulla Senior Center *
33 Michael Drive, Crawfordville
Wednesdays: 9:00am - 4:00pm
Last day is April 11th
* Site operated by AARP Tax Aide.
Background: The VITA effort, a part of UWBB’s BEST Project (Believe, Earn, Save, Thrive), is a fast-and-free tax service that helps residents avoid predatory income-tax preparers and costly refund-anticipation loans. VITA volunteers work to ensure that eligible families take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other credits/deductions, which can increase a family’s annual income up to 15 percent. The EITC could be worth thousands of dollars to a qualified taxpayer. In fact, unclaimed EITCs can still be claimed retroactively for up to three years back. Millions of extra dollars from EITC returns help stimulate the local economy and are reinvested into the Big Bend.
Since 2005, United Way of the Big Bend’s (UWBB) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) service has helped residents save $2.5 million in tax-preparation fees and get back $17.9 million in tax refunds, which resulted in a $20.4-million economic impact on the Big Bend. Through the work of VITA volunteers, these dollars stay in the pockets of the people who need them most. This money helps families pay down debt, boost savings and plan for the future. It’s money that percolates throughout the local economy.
Last year, more than 4,300 residents used VITA sites in Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla counties, resulting in $5.1 million in tax refunds. Since sites opened for this tax season Jan. 17, VITA has already helped more than 3,000 residents file their taxes.
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