The stressful tax season is in full swing and United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers free tax assistance to those who qualify.
The VITA program offers free tax preparation to Utah County residents with an income of $50,000 or less. The VITA program is grant-run and targeted toward low-income individuals, according to Stacey Mitchell, a
volunteer for United Way.
This program provides volunteers who are IRS-certified to prepare taxes for those who qualify. Volunteers are trained to look for earned income tax credit that students usually qualify for, according to Brenna Cox, director of Communications for United Way. Volunteers e-file returns and can set up direct deposit, the fastest way to receive returns. Students can receive the best tax return possible for free.
VITA is an important resource to the Utah Valley community. The same documents that VITA prepares cost an average of $200. For every one hour volunteered through VITA, an estimated $1,400 is brought back to the community. Cox explained that this program gives more than $6.5 million back to the community each year.
“It saves money for people who would have spent money to file their taxes and gives back to the community,” Cox said.
The money that is put back in the community because of this program is significant considering fewer than 4,000 tax returns were filed last year.
There are multiple locations across the county to receive assistance through this program. VITA is being offered through the April 15 tax deadline and appointments can be scheduled by dialing 2-1-1.
“Taxes are a scary thing to a lot of people and the VITA program helps people to see that they aren’t,” Cox said.