Lowcountry Area VITA Coalition Kicks Off Free Tax Filing Services in February

Lowcountry Area VITA Coalition Kicks Off Free Tax Filing Services in February

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program is gearing up to provide free, IRS-certified tax return preparation for Lowcountry residents.

VITA, a collaboration with the IRS, Beaufort County Human Services Alliance and United Way of the Lowcountry (UWLC), will kick off its popular tax filing support program beginning the first week in February.

Staffed by local volunteers, VITA provides free preparation and electronic filing of income tax returns for individuals and families with low-to-moderate incomes, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speakers. Last tax season, a team of 49 volunteers saved 1,797 Lowcountry residents more than $450,000 in tax preparations fees alone and placed more than $2.6 million in refunds back into residents’ pockets.

“Most people won’t think about income taxes for another couple of months. But low-income families are already counting the days until they can file,” said UWLC President and CEO Dale Douthat. “VITA helps Lowcountry residents maximize tax refunds that can help pay for necessities, like food and rent, or provide a much-needed cushion in the event of an emergency.”

VITA’s free preparation sites will be open the first week in February through April 15 at 11 locations throughout Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper counties. The sites include Voorhees College in Bamberg County and Blackville Community Development Corporation in Barnwell County; the Beaufort, Bluffton, Lobeco and St. Helena public libraries and The Deep Well Project in Beaufort County; Lowcountry Community Action Agency in Colleton County; and the Agape Family Life Center and Hardeeville and Ridgeland public libraries in Jasper County.

Two special Fiesta Fun Tax Education Days are scheduled in Bluffton and Hardeeville this year. The first will be held on Saturday, February 18 at the Rotary Community Center in Oscar Frazier Park in Bluffton. The other is set for Saturday, March 18 at the Hardeeville Recreation Center in Hardeeville. Both will feature tax volunteers and Spanish speaking interpreters to help prepare taxes for free as well as answer tax, financial and legal questions. There will also be a food truck, kids’ activities and La Pantera Radio will broadcast live onsite.

Taxpayers eligible for VITA services include people with annual incomes of less than $60,000; anyone with a physical disability; non-English-speaking citizens; and people older than 60. In addition to electronic filing for quick deposit of returns, VITA volunteers can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify, such as earned income tax credit, child tax credit, and credit for the elderly or the disabled.

For more information about VITA services, site locations, dates, times and required documents, visit: www.vitavolunteers.org

About United Way of the Lowcountry
Since the 1950s, United Way of the Lowcountry has been working to create a better life for the residents of Beaufort and Jasper counties. Our focus is on protecting services vital to the immediate basic needs of the most vulnerable members of our community; while making long term investments in education, economic mobility and health, because these are the building blocks for a good quality of life. We bring together people and organizations from all across the Lowcountry who bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. Each year, United Way raises funds through our annual campaign, special events and grants. Just as funds are raised locally, United Way funds stay local. Learn how you can be a part of United Way at www.uwlowcountry.org.

Click on the images below to view pdfs of this year’s VITA locations and
information about the Fun Fiesta Tax Education Days in both English and Spanish.