Local United Way offers help to low and moderate income individuals and families.
Tax season can be a time of stress and anxiety for many people. Add in the new federal tax bill and there can be many questions and concern over how the new law might affect individual tax filers. That’s why the United Way of North Central Florida is here to help!
Each year, United Way provides free, confidential tax preparation to local residents through our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. This IRS-grant funded program provides 100 percent free tax preparation services for low- to moderate-income level individuals and families, persons with disabilities, those with limited English and the elderly living in Alachua and surrounding counties, Bradford, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy and Union.
The program, commonly affiliated with United Ways in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, allows taxpayers to earn up to $6,269 from their earned income tax credit (EITC), keeping more money in their pockets for daily living needs year round. VITA is the agency’s sole internal community impact income program with a singular goal of improving financial literacy and stability within North Central Florida and has been in existence in Gainesville for more than 10 years.
Through successful partnerships with the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law, Santa Fe College, Buchholz Academy of Finance and the Alachua County Library District, VITA is housed at 10 sites and staffed with more than 140 highly-trained IRS-certified VITA volunteers. Each site allows for electronic filing, enabling taxpayers to get their refunds faster. People can also visit the program online via MyFreeTaxes.com to file their returns. Last year, United Way completed 1,327 returns among roughly 2,000 people with an average refund of $1,723 (or a total $1.8 million) and $532,677 in total Earned Income Tax Credits. We also saved filers an average of $261 each in individual tax preparation fees. The total impact of the program last year topped $2 million dollars!
More than 250 people filed their 2016 taxes through our supplemental online tax program, and even more people in the rural nearby counties of Columbia, Hamilton, Lafayette and Suwannee region received help through a special partnership with United Way of Suwannee.
VITA has a long history in our community, and through the help of committed volunteers and outstanding collaborations, United Way is able to save more people money and to keep more money in the household where it’s needed.
Remember, you don’t have to be stressed this tax season. Call United Way at 2-1-1 or 352-332-4636 to make your free, confidential appointment. Tax preparers are ready to answer any and all questions with regards to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, and to help you get the most out of your annual earnings. You may also visit us online at www.myfreetaxes.com to self-file.