VITA begins its free income-tax prep help

Staff report


The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley will team up with the Mahoning Valley Economic Opportunity Coalition to provide free income-tax preparation assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.

Low- to moderate-income individuals and families as well as seniors can qualify for the services made available by both the IRS VITA and Tax Counseling for Seniors program.

The program kicks off with the first Super Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Youngstown State University Williamson College of Business Administration, 1 University Plaza, and from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Sebring Public Library, 195 W. Ohio Ave. Appointments and photo identification are required.

The Mahoning County Financial Stability Partnership will join the United Way and the Mahoning Valley Economic Opportunity Coalition to host a Financial Fair as a part of the Super Saturday event at YSU.

Partnership members will be vendors at the event to provide financial education and support to attendees.

The goal is to assist each family in making responsible fiscal decisions with not only their tax-return money but also for their financial future. Gift cards will be given out to individuals who attend the event.

VITA offers free assistance to taxpayers, including, but not limited to, people with disabilities, students and older taxpayers who file Form 1040EZ, Form 1040A, or a basic Form 1040 Federal tax return. The program runs throughout tax season. This year’s filing deadline is April 18.

Taxpayers who visit a VITA site should bring wage and earnings statements (Form W-2) from all employers, interest statements from banks (Forms 1099), a copy of last year’s tax return if available and other relevant information about income and expenses.

Tax Counseling for the Elderly is another IRS-sponsored, free income-tax service available to the community.

Both VITA and TCE volunteers complete a rigorous IRS training course in basic income-tax return preparation before they can assist taxpayers. Last year, more than 3,400 individuals and families in Mahoning County took advantage of the free tax sites, resulting in more than $3.4 million dollars in refunds and fee savings.

For the past seven years, United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley has offered support to the VITA program that has allowed for additional volunteers and sites throughout the county.

Partners of the Mahoning Valley Economic Opportunity Coalition are American Association of Retired Persons, Campbell Neighborhood Ministries, Compass Family & Community Services, Eastern Gateway Community College, Home Savings & Loan, IRS, Mahoning County Community Legal Aid, PNC Bank, Zion Lutheran Church, Oak Hill Collaborative, Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County, YSU’s Williamson College of Business Administration and the United Way.

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