United Way's free tax Prep program seeks to help 10,000 individuals receive refunds
Free virtual or in-person sessions with certified IRS-trained volunteers are now available
February 15, 2022
United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Free Tax Prep program is offering free in-person, virtual and drop-off tax preparation for individuals across the region.
The program ensures low-income residents can receive the maximum refund without any hidden fees.
“The community is still suffering from income loss and many people are barely getting by. United Way’s Free Tax Prep program can help lighten the load of bills piling up and provide relief for unexpected expenses,” said Alena Anderson, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Moving to Financial stability manager. “A tax refund can be used to feed a family, provide transportation to work or to meet other basic needs.”
This year, hundreds of volunteers have signed up to help their neighbors prepare their taxes. Each volunteer is IRS-certified and educated to manage the filing process, apply appropriate tax credits and take care of additional steps due to unemployment and Child Tax Credit benefits. During the 2021 tax season, approximately 250 IRS-trained volunteers helped prepare roughly 6,000 tax returns, generating millions of dollars in vital refunds.
Many families who use United Way’s Free Tax Prep service are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a benefit for working people with low to moderate income. Taxpayers who qualify and claim the credit could pay less federal tax, pay no tax or even get a tax refund of $1,500 to more than $6,000. Additionally, volunteers can help families determine whether they qualify for the Child Tax Credit.
“Many working families are unaware of the additional funds they could receive from the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit,” added Ms. Anderson. “In addition to alleviating the complicated tax filing process, our volunteers have the skills to get individuals all of the benefits and money they have earned throughout the year.”
Clients using virtual services can upload their materials and tax experts will prepare and review the return. In-person tax preparation will be conducted in a safe environment, following CDC guidelines, to provide information and review the return.
Free tax preparation services are available now through April 14, 2022 by visiting pa211sw.org or dialing 2-1-1. Assistance from a volunteer tax preparer is available for individuals with a total income of up to $38,000 and families with a total annual income up to $58,000.
Virtual assistance is available through ‘Get Your Refund’ for individuals and families with a total annual income up to $66,000. And, free, do-it-yourself online tax assistance is available through ‘My Free Taxes’ for all individuals and families, regardless of income.