by Amy Bosworth

2-1-1 Director

“The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax.”  -Albert Einstein

Tax season looms dark and menacing every year.  But for households in Utah with an annual income of less than $50,000, there is help, and it’s free to boot.  The Volunteer Income Tax Program (VITA) and United Way 2-1-1 partner up each year to make sure that low-to-moderate income households have access to free tax preparation by an IRS certified volunteer.

Here’s how it works.  First, dial 2-1-1 and a friendly information specialist will set up an appointment at any one of numerous VITA locations throughout Utah.  United Way 2-1-1 will then provide a list of documents that need to be taken to the appointment.  The rest is easy.  Simply attend the appointment with the appropriate documents, and the taxes are then prepared with the expertise of a VITA volunteer.  If a refund is due, on average it will arrive in the bank account of the recipient within 7 to 10 business days.  Fast, simple, and free!

Because this initiative is volunteer driven, the benefits to our state are huge.  Last year, the VITA Program brought 22 million dollars into Utah through tax refunds.  Of that, 8 million dollars was a direct result of the Earned Income Tax Credit which available to low-to-moderate income working families.  Many people don’t even know this tax credit could be available to them.  Families receive the refunds in a timely manner and avoid expensive charges from pay services as well as predatory lenders at fast cash locations.

Even if you don’t qualify for the VITA program, consider volunteering.  Volunteers throughout the state help with this valuable service.  If you are skilled in tax preparation or would like to become skilled, this may be the opportunity for you.  There is also the option to volunteer with 2-1-1 to assist in scheduling appointments.  To find out more, dial 2-1-1.