As part of our commitment to addressing key community issues, United Way is developing strategies to positively impact the financial stability of our citizens. The goal is to help move people towards greater economic self-sufficiency and away from the safety net services that are used during crisis situations.
One important initiative working toward this goal is United Way Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). Sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), VITA provides free income tax preparation assistance to individuals and families with a household income of approximately $54,000 a year or less. In addition to providing free tax preparation, VITA works to ensure everyone in the community receives all of the tax credits and deductions for which they are eligible.
Many in our community don’t have access to affordable tax preparation services or are unaware of programs like Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that could put thousands of dollars back in their hands and into our local economy. VITA helps taxpayers obtain eligible tax credits and deductions, especially EITC, Child Tax Credit, Education Tax Credits and Child Care tax deductions. Anyone who files a basic tax return can have taxes prepared at one of the VITA sites.
In 2015, the VITA coalition (which includes United Ways of Greenville, Pickens, Spartanburg, Anderson and Laurens counties) prepared more than 9,100 tax returns, bringing approximately $9.1 million in tax refunds to the Upstate.
With this growing coalition, including faith-based, public and private organizations, our goal is to help more individuals and families achieve greater financial stability with our free tax preparation services.
Have Your Taxes Prepared for Free by VITA
If you have a household income of less than $54,000 a year, dial 2-1-1 to schedule an appointment for free tax assistance at any one of VITA's sites located in Greenville County and across the Upstate (view this year's VITA sites). In addition to scheduling, 2-1-1 call specialists inform taxpayers of the documentation required for tax preparation (see the list of required documents), saving both time and frustration.
Once your appointment is scheduled, you will be assisted at the site by one of our IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers. All taxes are filed electronically, allowing you to receive your tax return in as little as seven days!
Prepare Your Own Taxes Online for Free
Have a household income of $62,000 or less? Use www.unitedway.org/myfreetaxes to file your own taxes online for free. The site walks you through each step of the filing process to make filing your taxes a breeze. Save money and maximize your return!
Be a VITA Volunteer
Last year, 300 community volunteers contributed more than 8,000 hours of service (an estimated value of $166,000), helping more than 9,100 people receive free tax preparation services.
Great volunteers are the key to our success. To join this year's effort and help make a difference in our community, visit www.vitavolunteer.org.
We are currently seeking volunteers for the following positions:
- Volunteer Tax Preparers help individuals and families prepare their tax returns and ensure all eligible taxpayers receive their qualifying tax credits.
- Volunteer Greeters/Screeners welcome VITA participants to the site and ensure that they are prepared with all required documentation to meet with the tax preparer.
- Volunteer Site Coordinators manage the operations of the United Way VITA site, including volunteer staff and quality control.
- Volunteer Interpreters assist taxpayers who have limited English proficiency. We are currently seeking Spanish interpreters.
Tax Preparer Training
Volunteer tax preparers are required to complete IRS tax certification at the Basic level. United Way VITA Collaborative has developed a training model that provides a supportive learning environment where you will excel.
As a VITA volunteer, you will receive:
- Professional tax and software training
- Flexible volunteer hours — daytime, evenings or weekends
- The satisfaction of helping others in our community
Benefits of Volunteering
- Gain a valuable and marketable skill
- Make new friends! This is a great opportunity to meet other people in our community who are dedicated to helping others.
- Satisfaction of knowing that you had a direct impact on our community. Imagine helping someone put food on the table or saving a family from a mortgage foreclosure. As a VITA volunteer, you will help individuals and families keep their hard-earned money.