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VITA program prepares over $8M in returns

By Staff | Aug 26, 2020

The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has concluded the extended 2019 tax season with tremendous results, officials reported.

VITA volunteers provided free tax assistance service to over 5,700 individuals and families who received approximately $8 million in tax refunds and saved over $1.7 million in tax preparation fees. That is money that goes back into the community, which is especially helpful during the pandemic.

This year, 194 volunteers were trained and certified in partnership with the IRS and assisted at more than 30 locations, including 10 United Way Houses and special events during the tax season.

The VITA program serves households earning $66,000 or less by preparing and e-filing their federal tax returns. United Way’s IRS certified volunteers help determine if clients are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), education, and/or childcare credits when they file.

For those who still need to file their 2019 tax return, the United Way has four year-round VITA sites in Estero-San Carlos, LaBelle, Lehigh Acres and Fort Myers to help. All sites operate by appointment only by calling 239-433-3900. Those who prefer to file their taxes on their own can do so for free at MyFreeTaxes.com as long as total household income is under $66,000.

The United Way will be recruiting volunteers to serve as tax preparers, greeters and interpreters for the 2020 tax year over the next few months. Volunteers will complete free classroom and online tax preparation training and certification using the TaxSlayer software. To join the team, visit www.unitedwaylee.org/become-vita-volunteer.