The United Way of Palm Beach County and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have announced the return of free income-tax preparation service available through the United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The free service is available at 13 VITA locations throughout Palm Beach County for individuals and families with annual household incomes of $50,000 or less.
Those who visit a VITA center will learn about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a federal tax credit for individuals and families who meet certain income and eligibility guidelines. EITC was established by Congress in 1975 to help working, low-income individuals and families. Very often, people are not aware they qualify for EITC and do not ask tax preparers about it. The VITA program focuses on educating people about EITC and helping those eligible file for it.
Research indicates the VITA program has had a very positive impact on the local economy, as many people are using their refunds in ways that support local businesses. During the nine years United Way has offered VITA in Palm Beach County, the program has returned about $160 million which taxpayers used to pay off debt, invest in education or housing, or open a bank account. This is new money for the local economy.
VITA also helps taxpayers save annually more than $1 million in fees they would have paid to a tax-preparation company. Last year, more than 9,500 residents used the VITA program and received $16 million in refunds, including $6.2 million in EITC.
United Way VITA sites are located from Jupiter to Boca Raton and The Glades and are open through April 17. All returns processed at VITA sites are e-filed, so filers can receive their refund money quickly, normally in 10-12 days. The sites are staffed by IRS-certified volunteers who help those who are eligible to claim EITC on their return.
To find a VITA site near you, please call 2-1-1, the county’s information and referral line, or visit www.unitedwaypbc.org/vita
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