(Stark, Carroll and Tuscarawas Counties, OH) January 21, 2021 – United Way of Greater Stark County’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program is now scheduling drop-off-only appointments Feb. 1 through Apr. 13 for the 2021 tax return season. To schedule an appointment, visit uwstark.org/vita or call 211, available 24 hours a day.
“For almost ten years, this program has helped local tax-payers file their tax returns for free,” says VITA Program Manager Rachel Brown. “Our job is to help people access the tax credits for which they are qualified while saving them money spent on filing fees, which is typically about $200 per return. Since 2013, VITA has saved residents around $3.3M on filing fees and helped community members file more than thirty-two thousand returns.”
Last tax season, VITA served more than 2,800 individuals and families. 78 local volunteers donated 2,879.5 hours of their time and helped complete 5,486 Federal and State returns as of August. They helped bring $3.49M back into the community this past year through tax credits and refunds, and over the past eight years, $22M.
It is one of the many programs available through United Way’s Economic Mobility Center (formerly Financial Prosperity Center), programs that give individuals and families the opportunity to build a solid financial foundation for the future. The Center offers workshops in financial education, plus financial coaching, resources for addressing stressors, auto repairs and more – all services that benefit financial health and stability.
“VITA volunteers are such 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 Director of Economic Mobility Programs Brittany Paliswat. “Since 2013, almost 700 volunteers have donated more than sixteen thousand hours to help families file their taxes for free. That’s a value of almost three hundred thousand dollars in volunteer hours. Our community is truly amazing, and we are very proud of this program and what its volunteers are able to do for families.”
Drop-off locations include Carroll County District Library, Community One Credit Union, CSE Federal Credit Union, DoverPhila Federal Credit Union (Dover & Newcomerstown), Massillon Recreation Center, OhioMeansJobs (Stark County), Rodman Library (Alliance), Stark Library (Main, Lake, Memorial, Sandy Valley), Stark State College, and United Way of Greater Stark County. Other sites may be announced throughout the season.
Since 2013, VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) has been available through United Way of Greater Stark County. The program 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. VITA helps meet the basic needs of community members and builds financial assets as they continue on the path of long-term financial independence and economic mobility. IRS trained volunteers work with clients to identify tax credits and deductions 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. 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. It was also voted Best Tax Service in The Canton Repository’s 2020 Best of the Best awards, and a finalist for the 2021 awards. Appointments for this season are drop-off-only and must be scheduled by visiting uwstark.org/vita or calling 211 (available 24/7/365).
About United Way of Greater Stark County
For nearly 100 years, United Way of Greater Stark County has served Stark and Carroll Counties. During that time, we have continued to build a better, equitable community where every person has the potential for a healthier life, a better education and more financial stability. We look to the future through our investment priorities, which ensure our community will have the foundation it needs to thrive: Access to Health, Childhood Success, Youth Success, Economic Mobility and Basic Housing Needs. With the support of volunteers, community partners and donors, we invest donor dollars efficiently and effectively into local community programs serving the most critical needs. Learn more at uwstark.org.