Tax Season appointments are officially open and United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades’ free tax filing assistance program is ready to assist Southwest Florida residents keep more of their hard-earned money. The United Way VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program provides no-cost federal tax filing services at over 25 sites in Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Charlotte Counties to individuals and families making less than $66,000 per year and self-employed persons with expenses less than $35,000 showing no business loss, depreciation, or employees.
IRS certified VITA volunteers help clients claim valuable tax credits they’ve earned, like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit which lift millions of hard-working Americans out of poverty each year. The VITA program also saves taxpayers money by providing quality tax services—free of charge! The average tax return costs a taxpayer nearly $300— this money can instead buy groceries or help with the rent. This program will be a valuable resource during the 2023 filing season for many who struggle with having enough means to meet their financial obligations.
The Internal Revenue Service is cautioning that taxpayers may receive smaller refunds in 2023, as pandemic-era programs continue to expire, and expanded tax credits and deductions—like the child tax credit and charitable contributions deduction—revert to their pre-COVID-19 amounts.
Unlike paid preparers, who are not required to have a license, VITA volunteers are trained extensively and must certify through the IRS annually. VITA services are not only free, but they are also a reliable and trusted source for preparing tax returns. In addition, all tax returns are reviewed by at least one other preparer before they are submitted, which helps maintain accuracy rates higher than 97 percent.
“Despite many challenges last year, over 7,000 individuals and families were served by our dedicated volunteers, which resulted in a $13 Million impact to our local economy,” said Jeannine Joy, United Way CEO and President. “This year they are united more than ever to continue to serve our local community.”
Taxpayers who prefer a no contact option can e-file themselves free of charge with MyFreeTaxes.com or they can let our virtual VITA volunteers file their return online through GetYourRefund.org/uwlee It is simple and secure, while offering online assistance with the process. Tax filers answer simple questions about their situation and securely upload photos or PDFs of their tax documents. The VITA team remotely prepares the tax return, speaks with the tax filer to review their return, and files the return with the tax filer’s consent.
To locate the most convenient VITA site and schedule an appointment visit: UnitedWayLee.org/freetaxprep or call the United Way 211 Helpline by dialing 2-1-1 or 239.433.3900. It is suggested that clients bring both their 2020 and 2021 tax returns to this year’s appointments.