Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program Reaches Low to Moderate Income Households
With the 2022 tax filing season coming to a close on April 18, United Way of Summit & Medina, in partnership with Citizens, which generously supports the program with a $15,000.00 contribution, would like to remind residents they may be eligible to have their federal and state income taxes prepared and filed for free through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
This free tax preparation program is available to individuals and families with household incomes up to $60,000 annually. Taxes are prepared by IRS-certified volunteers who assist low-to-moderate income residents of the state to access the greatest amount of refunds. Both United Way of Summit & Medina and Citizens share a common goal of encouraging financial stability and recognize the importance of programs like VITA to families and individuals.
“Our VITA service has a huge impact on the lives of local residents. The average tax refund for a VITA client is more than the average monthly cost of rent in our community. It’s enough to help struggling residents catch up on bills, build their savings and start working their way to financial empowerment,” said Jim Mullen, president and CEO of United Way of Summit & Medina. “We are proud of the partnership we have developed with Citizens to ensure these opportunities continue.”
This year’s tax filing deadline is April 18. VITA appointments are still available on Monday, April 17 and Tuesday April 18. To schedule an appointment, dial 2-1-1 or visit www.uwsummitmedina.org/vita.
This program continues to be an important element in stabilizing financial health across the community. Since it launched in 2018, United Way of Summit & Medina’s VITA program has helped local residents claim more than $11.5 million in federal and state tax refunds. Volunteers have completed nearly 8,000 returns as of last year, with more than 1,700 additional returns expected in 2023. And because the average cost of commercial tax preparation services is more than $200, residents have saved more than $1.7 million by using the VITA program.
“In this challenging economic environment, it is critical that the VITA program continues to serve Ohio residents with free tax preparation assistance, helping local families secure the maximum tax refund possible,” said James Malz, Midwest regional market executive, Citizens. “We also hope that this service can empower members of the community to kickstart savings that help serve as the foundation for a healthy, stable financial future.”
Some important changes individuals will see this year include:
- An increase in the Earned Income Credit that can mean as much as nearly $7,000 for a working family
- Eligibility for the Retirement Savers Tax Credit has been increased to $68,000 for a married couple filing jointly or $34,000 for a single filer
- Increases in the Child Tax Credit have lapsed; filers with children 16 years old and younger can still claim the credit for a maximum of $2,000 per child
For residents who want guidance on how to best utilize their tax refunds, United Way of Summit & Medina also provides free one-on-one financial coaching. Offered through the Financial Empowerment Center, created through a partnership with the City of Akron, financial coaching helps residents build a sustainable budget, save, reduce debt and raise their credit scores. This service is free and available to residents of Summit and Medina counties. Simply visit www.uwsummitmedina.org/fec or dial 211 to set up an appointment.
The VITA program is a partnership with United Way of Summit and Medina, Citizens, the IRS and AARP Foundation Tax Aide.