(Stark, Carroll and Tuscarawas Counties, OH) January 20, 2021 – United Way of Greater Stark County’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program is now scheduling drop-off appointments February through April for the 2020 tax return season.
VITA offers free tax preparation services to eligible, moderate to low income households, who earn under $60,000 if filing single and under $90,000 if filing a joint return. Volunteers work with clients to identify tax credits that are often overlooked, while helping people avoid the high cost of paid preparers and predatory lenders. Clients filing with direct deposit can typically expect a refund in 7-10 days.
“Since 2013, we have helped local tax-payers to file more than 27,000 returns for free,” explains VITA Site Coordinator Tami Stephens. “VITA has helped bring more than nineteen million dollars back into our community. Our job is to help people access the tax credits for which they are qualified, while saving them money spent on filing fees. Over the past eight years, we have saved residents around 2.7 million just on filing fees.”
According to 2014-2018 census data, approximately 133,000 (88%) households in Stark County alone make less than $75,000 a year. Of these households, only 2,400 (less than 2%) of these households filed with VITA last year.
Last tax season, United Way of Greater Stark County and its 83 VITA volunteers helped income tax clients in Carroll, Stark and Tuscarawas Counties collect over $3.8 million in tax credits and refunds. Volunteer tax preparers donated 1,832 hours of their time to help complete 4,836 Federal and State returns.
The service was named tax “Site of the Year” by the Ohio Association of Food Banks 2014-2019. VITA was also voted one of the top three tax services in Stark County in The Canton Repository’s Readers’ Choice Awards in the past few years and voted Best Tax Service in The Canton Repository’s 2020 Best of the Best awards.
“VITA volunteers are an important part of our community. They analyze each person’s tax return to find all possible credits and deductions, including Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), so that families can continue to build financial assets and work towards economic mobility more easily,” says United Way of Greater Stark County’s President & CEO Maria Heege. “Since 2013, more than 600 VITA volunteers have donated more than thirteen thousand hours to help families file their taxes for free. That’s almost a value of two hundred and forty thousand dollars in volunteer hours. Our community is truly amazing and we are very proud of this program and what it’s volunteers are able to do for families.”
Drop-off locations include Carroll County District Library, DoverPhila Federal Credit Union, Massillon Recreation Center, OhioMeansJobs Stark, Stark State College, and United Way of Greater Stark County. Other sites may be announced throughout the season.
Due to mandatory pandemic restrictions, VITA regulations will follow public health orders and restrict tax interactions to drop-off only services this year. In-person appointments will not be available. The drop-off only clinics will start approximately February 1, 2021 and run through April 15, 2021. Clinic drop-off times vary, based on location. VITA only accepts clients who have scheduled drop-off appointments.
Appointments are only drop-off and must be scheduled. To schedule an appointment, visit uwstark.org/vita or call 330-994-VITA (8482), available 24 hours a day.
About United Way of Greater Stark County
United Way of Greater Stark County fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. We win by living United. By forging unlikely partnerships. By finding new solutions to old problems. By mobilizing the best resources. And by inspiring individuals to join the fight against their community’s most daunting social crisis. Our mission is to improve the quality of life in our communities by leading in the development of solutions to critical social issues in the areas of health, education and financial stability. In order to live better, we must live United. For more information about United Way of Greater Stark County visit uwstark.org. Offices are at 401 Market Avenue North, Suite 300, Canton, Ohio 44702. (330) 491-0445.