United Way offers free tax assistance

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Neighbors | Submitted.IRS certified volunteers work with the United Way from February through April offering free assistance to community members filing their taxes.

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Neighbors | Submitted.United Way volunteers who are certified by the IRS spend two hours once a week offering free assistance to community members filing their taxes.

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Neighbors | Submitted.United Way volunteers meet with community members offering help with filing taxes for free at multiple locations across the Mahoning Valley through April.

By JESSICA HARKER

jharker@vindy.com

The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley is offering free tax help to local communities from February through April.

Director of Community Impact Trina Benson said the program, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, was picked up by the United Way about four years ago.

“We believe it is very important to save tax payers money, and many of them are spending half their return to simply get their taxes done,” Benson said.

VITA offers free tax filing assistance to community members filing form 1040EZ, form 1040A, or a basic form 1040 Federal tax return.

Benson said the program also offers additional services to low to moderate income individuals and families and seniors through their program and the Tax Counseling for Seniors.

“This program allows people to keep the money they earned through their tax return in their pockets, which makes a big difference to a lot of local families,” Benson said.

She said that last year the programed served more than 2,300 local people.

“We always have a lot of people interested who need the assistance,” Benson said. “The program continues to grow every year.”

Benson said that all volunteers are required to complete online courses to be certified by the IRS.

“We make sure every volunteer knows exactly what they are doing when we send them out in the community,” she said.

Each volunteer spends about two hours one night per week throughout tax season at any of the available locations.

The program offers 17 different locations, including The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County’s Boardman and Poland branches, as well as the Austintown Senior Center.

“It’s a great program that we are proud to offer the community through the United Way,” Benson said.

For a full list of locations and to make an appoint, go to www.ymvunitedway.org/vita-1.

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