PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ) and the Campaign for Working Families (CWF) kicked off the 2016 tax season and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) by opening nearly 40 free tax preparation sites across the region.
"At United Way, we're focused on ensuring our local families have access to the resources, assets and education they need to thrive," said Jim Cawley, president and CEO of UWGPSNJ. "Through programs like VITA, we help put additional dollars back into the pockets of our families living paycheck-to-paycheck, so they are able to pay down debt, save for a home or continue their education. Thanks to our Impact Partners like the Campaign for Working Families, we're changing lives and strengthening communities – one child, one adult and one family at a time."
To celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the enactment of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and recent legislation that made the federal EITC permanent, eligible community members are invited to file their taxes for free at nearly 40 tax sites in Philadelphia, Montgomery and Delaware Counties and southern New Jersey.
According to the IRS, taxpayers are often unaware of the important credits they may be eligible for and leave valuable dollars on the table. The IRS estimates that one in five taxpayers does not claim one of the biggest boosters to family incomes – the EITC, a refundable credit that can return up to $6,269 per qualifying family – simply because they are unaware that they are eligible or do not file their taxes. VITA not only provides assistance for taxes, but also helps residents make connections to other financial resources such as budgeting, credit counseling and financial literacy programs.
"Our goal is to ensure every eligible taxpayer has access to free and accurate tax preparation services, where the tax filer can be assured they receive all eligible credits they are entitled to in an effort to maximize their refund," says Mary Arthur, executive director of CWF. "We are honored to have the opportunity to continue this work thanks to the significant support and contributions from United Way's Impact Fund."
Families earning $54,000 or less, or individuals earning $20,000 or less, will be eligible to receive free tax assistance. Last year, VITA volunteers filed nearly 29,000 tax returns across the region, which returned more $41 million to local communities. For eligibility requirements and a list of VITA tax sites, please visit UnitedForImpact.org/VITA or CWFPhilly.org.
SOURCE United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey