It’s tax season and VITA is ready to assist local residents with free tax filing

(Canton, OH) January 10, 2019 – United Way of Greater Stark County’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program is now scheduling appointments for the 2019 tax return season.

VITA assists individuals and families who have an income of $65,000 or less by filing their taxes for free. VITA 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. An IRS-compliant drop-off service is also available every Monday at United Way of Greater Stark County, January 28 to April 8, 930AM – 530PM, for taxpayers who are unable to schedule in-person assistance.

This season, in addition to scheduling appointments at many locations, VITA is hosting three events: a 24-hour tax-a-thon and two drive-thrus. The Tax-A-Thon is Friday, February 1 and Saturday, February 2, from 9AM – 9PM at United Way of Greater Stark County’s Financial Prosperity Center at OhioMeansJobs Stark County. The event features a “Pack the House” competition between students at Mount Union, Walsh and Malone Universities. IRS-trained volunteer student tax preparers from these schools participate in a friendly competition to see who can prepare the most tax returns and log the most hours during the event. Tax payers know by the end of their session their tax-return status from the IRS. Alumni are encouraged to make their appointment soon and specify which school they are supporting.

“VITA’s Pack the House is a fun way for local students and alumni to support their alma mater. In addition to bragging rights amongst the rival schools, the winning team will receive a trophy and a plaque.” says Chrisann Leaman, Manager of United Way of Greater Stark County’s Financial Prosperity Center. “It’s also great opportunity for college students to log volunteer hours and network with local professionals.”

There will also be two “Take your Taxes for a Ride” drive-thru events on February 23 and March 30, from 10AM – 4PM at United Way of Greater Stark County’s Financial Prosperity Center at OhioMeansJobs Stark County.

“The goal of the VITA events is to make it a little easier for tax payers to file their taxes and therefore increase awareness of our free program,” explains VITA Site Coordinator Tami Stephens. “We help people access the tax credits for which they are qualified, while saving them money spent on filing fees, typically about $250.”

According to census data, approximately 74,000 households in Stark County make less than $50,000 a year. Of these households, only 2,300 (3%) of these households filed with VITA last year.

Last year, 112 volunteer tax preparers donated 2,114 hours of their time and helped complete 4,656 Federal and State returns. The service was named “Ohio Benefit Bank Site of the Year” by the Ohio Association of Food Banks for the past 4 years. VITA was also voted one of the top three tax services in Stark County in The Canton Repository’s Readers’ Choice Awards for the past 3 years. Tax clinics are scheduled at multiple locations throughout tax season.

“VITA helps taxpayers in our community save a substantial amount of money, bringing more money back into local businesses and stimulating the economy” says United Way of Greater Stark County’s President & CEO Maria Heege. “Last tax season, VITA volunteers helped income tax clients in Stark and Carroll Counties collect over $3.2 million in tax credits and refunds.”

VITA clinics are available at many locations, including Carroll County District Library, CSE Federal Credit Union in Canton, Malone University, Massillon Recreation Center, OhioMeansJobs (Stark & Tuscarawas Counties), Rodman Library, Stark County District Library (Main, East Canton, Sandy Valley, and Madge Youtz), Stark State College, United Way of Greater Stark County, Walsh University and Woodforest Massillon Walmart.

To schedule an appointment, visit www.uwstark.org or call 330-994-VITA (8482), Monday – Thursday, 10AM -5PM.

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 lives by mobilizing the caring power of our communities in Greater Stark County. In order to live better, we must live United. For more information about United Way of Greater Stark County visit www.uwstark.org. Offices are at 401 Market Avenue North, Suite 300, Canton, Ohio 44702. (330) 491-0445.