United Way of Summit County’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) has begun serving clients for the 2019 tax season. Now through the end of tax season on April 15, workers from Summit County households earning less than $60,000 per year can call 2-1-1 to schedule a free tax preparation session in the Financial Empowerment Center at 1060 Kenmore Blvd. in Akron or schedule online at uwsummit.org/vita.
The VITA program supports United Way’s Bold Goal 3 – to financially empower 11,000 individuals by 2025. For many households nationwide, tax refunds are the single largest income supplement they receive in a year. Last year, United Way’s VITA program helped local families file a total of 893 returns.
In particular, United Way seeks to help more working families claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is a refundable tax credit for low- to moderate-income working individuals and couples, particularly those with children. In addition to providing a financial boost for working people, the EITC helps the local economy. Research has shown that the EITC encourages work, reduces poverty and leads to long-term gains in child health and academic success.
United Way’s VITA program also helps clients avoid often-excessive tax preparation fees and scams like predatory loans disguised as instant tax refunds. What’s more, because VITA is offered through the Financial Empowerment Center in Kenmore, clients can be referred to a financial coach, who can help clients make the most out of their refund, or if necessary, talk them through options for paying off owed taxes.
“This program has a real and immediate impact on the community,” said Jim Mullen, president and CEO of United Way of Summit County. “Thanks to our dozens of dedicated VITA volunteers, families in Summit County can get their taxes done by trained people and keep their full refund. That’s money they could use to make ends meet, pay down debt, save for the future and invest in their communities.”
To schedule a free tax prep appointment, call 2-1-1 or visit uwsummit.org/vita.