Upstate South Carolina taxpayers can have their taxes prepared and filed for free as United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program opens its 13th year with both in-person and online options.
United Way of Greenville County, United Way of Pickens County, United Way of Anderson County, United Way of Laurens County, United Way of Oconee, and United Way of the Piedmont are offering the service at 50 volunteer-staffed locations across the Upstate.
Sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), VITA provides free income tax preparation assistance to individuals and families with a household income of less than $60,000 a year. VITA’s volunteers are trained and certified by the IRS to help taxpayers maximize their potential tax returns by ensuring all of the tax credits and deductions for which they qualify are claimed.
Appointments are now being scheduled by calling 2-1-1, United Way’s resource helpline, or toll-free at 866-892-9211. The VITA program will continue to run through the April 15 filing deadline.
Online Tax Preparation at MyFreeTaxes.com
For taxpayers who prefer to file their own returns, United Way is offering MyFreeTaxes.com. The online self-prep tool allows taxpayers with a household income of $66,000 or less to prepare and file their own federal and state taxes for free online using Premium H&R Block Software.
Last year, VITA prepared returns for more than 12,100 taxpayers, saving $2.4 million in tax preparation fees and bringing more than $14 million in tax refunds to the Upstate.
In addition to appointment scheduling, 2-1-1 call specialists inform taxpayers of the documentation required for tax preparation, as well as the latest site locations and hours of operation. Once an appointment is scheduled, taxpayers will be assisted at the site by one of the program’s IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers. Tax returns can be filed electronically, and with direct deposit, taxpayers can have their refunds as quickly as seven to 14 days after filing.
“Many people 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,” said Regional VITA Program Manager Craig Shoemaker. “VITA helps taxpayers obtain eligible tax credits and deductions, especially EITC, Child Tax Credit, Education Tax Credits and Child Care tax deductions. By offering this service for free in our community, we can help more individuals and families maximize their returns, and achieve greater financial stability in the new year.”
For more information about the program, visit www.unitedwaygc.org/vita. To schedule an appointment, dial 2-1-1.