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Free tax assistance available for working families

VITA wants to take the hassle out of tax season.

If your family makes less than $54,000 a year, then a volunteer certified tax preparer can help file your tax return this season and make sure you get the biggest possible refund.

For free.

Nearly 300 dedicated volunteers make up VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) in Upstate South Carolina. They’ll be working from now through April 15 in 44 sites across Oconee, Pickens, Laurens, Greenville, Union, Cherokee, Spartanburg and Anderson counties. All you have to do is make an appointment and remember to bring these important documents along.

If you have internet access and want to do your own taxes, United Way has partnered with the Wal-Mart Foundation to provide, powered by H&R Block, free of charge for both federal and state tax returns. And if you file online through, the family income limit goes up to $62,000. is also supported by local volunteers, so if you need help with any questions while filing your taxes, you can rest easy knowing that your call is going to someone in your community.

It’s free. Did we mention that?

Perhaps the most important thing that these volunteers will be able to help with is making sure that eligible families get the Earned Income Tax Credit, a special tax credit for low-income working families. But not everyone who is eligible takes advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit; in fact, in South Carolina last year, nearly 100,000 households left nearly $227 million worth of deductions on the table every tax season. Wouldn’t you rather put that hard-earned cash in your pocket? Let VITA help.

VITA in Upstate South Carolina is headed by Craig Shoemaker, the Financial Education and Outreach Specialist here at United Way of Greenville County. He has been hard at work training United Way’s 29 AmeriCorps members and many others for the last several months so that they will be fully equipped to handle any curveballs this tax season.

Make your appointment soon by dialing 2-1-1. And don’t forget to bring these along to your appointment.