United Means VITA program ends prolonged tax season

United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee’s Voluntary Income Tax Assistance Program has completed the extended tax season 2021.

United Way’s VITA volunteers provided free tax return services to more than 6,700 individuals and families that received approximately $ 9.7 million in tax refunds and saved over $ 2 million in tax preparation fees.

With the help of 147 IRS-certified VITA volunteers and the support of community partners, the local United Way operated 16 traditional tax pages, five contact-restricted drop-off / pick-up pages and one fully virtual page. The workers were able to provide services that matched the needs and levels of comfort of customers and volunteers across Southwest Florida. Together, VITA volunteers provided more than 12,800 hours of service valued at $ 348,160, bringing the community impact for this program alone to $ 12 million.

“This was my rookie year and I am so impressed with the leadership, camaraderie and professionalism of United Way VITA. I really appreciate the interaction with the customers, who are so grateful for the services of the knowledgeable volunteers, ”said VITA volunteer Kristi Haustman.

“We are grateful for the dedicated group of volunteers, partners and staff who have made this tax season our most successful to date,” said Jeannine Joy, President of United Way. “The pandemic safety protocol, mid-season tax law changes, the American Rescue Plan, and a five-week extension made this tax season the toughest we’ve ever seen. We are delighted that our dedicated VITA team was able to put a record-breaking amount of reimbursement into the pockets of hard-working residents and families when they needed it most. “

The VITA program serves households earning $ 66,000 or less by accurately creating and electronically filing their federal tax returns for free. United Way’s IRS certified volunteers help determine if clients are eligible for income tax credits, education credits, and / or childcare credits upon filing to ensure clients receive the full refunds they are entitled to.

For those yet to file their 2020 tax returns, United Way has four year-round VITA locations in Estero-San Carlos, LaBelle, Lehigh Acres and Fort Myers to help.

These year-round websites can also help with filing taxes and changes from previous years.

All sides only work by appointment; Call 239-433-3900 to schedule an appointment. Those who prefer to submit themselves can do so for free at MyFreeTaxes.com as long as the total household income is less than $ 66,000.

United Way will be recruiting volunteers over the next few months to serve as tax preparers, greeters and interpreters for the 2022 tax season.

Volunteers complete free training courses and certifications for tax preparation in the classroom and online using the TaxSlayer software.

To join the VITA team, visit unitedwaylee.org/vita-volunteer/

For more information, call United Way at 239-433-2000 or visit www.UnitedWayLee.org. |