Tax Day is just a week away. Yikes. And while this may spell doom and gloom for many people, United Way thankfully provides tax assistance to many people through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). Between now and tax day, many tax centers are open across the U.S. to help families (for free) that earn less than $57,000 a year. If you qualify (or know someone who does) click here to enter your zip code and find a free filing center near you. It's that easy! And, to prove that this idea isn't too good to be true, the following is a short list of success stories provided to us by our friends at United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. For years, they have worked to provide help to people in a variety of ways, including the coordination of this important service. Check it out:
Cierra, a college student, just got her taxes done for free. She normally pays over $50 to get her taxes done. When asked why she came today, she simply said, "It's free!"
A client just got her taxes done for free. She paid $300 last year. This year it was free! Her advice: don't waste money on rapid refund loans, get your taxes done for free at a UW VITA site and get your refund in about a week!
Betty and her husband are both retired and have been going to another place to get their taxes done for years. They were excited to hear about a VITA site and were looking forward to not paying any fees to get their taxes done. They also liked that there were appointments available (as opposed to drop in and wait). It helped them schedule their day.
While waiting for her next appointment, Marian, a VITA volunteer spoke about her experience. Marian has volunteered with VITA for 10 years and is a VITA instructor. She says the reasons she keeps volunteering are varied. Marian loves the interactions with different kinds of people and thinks it is important to give a professional and respectful approach to this free tax prep service. She thinks it is important to go line by line over the taxes with her clients. “My clients tell me all the time that at the paid tax preparers’ office, they never get anything but their final number. They leave not knowing what credits they got or any other information about their taxes,” said Marian. She thinks this is an important and valued service the VITA volunteers offer and often starts a conversation about important financial issues like budgeting and money management.
A client at the UW VITA Free Tax Prep site came after her first meeting with a paid tax prep service. The paid tax preparer said she would be getting an $1100 refund. The client didn't think this sounded right and came to have her taxes done for free. The IRS trained and certified volunteer prepared her taxes and recognized that she qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit. The client ended up with a $5400 refund. One of the many benefits of coming to a VITA site is that our volunteers are trained to ask the right questions to determine what credits can be applied.