BOYNTON BEACH, Fla., January 30, 2012 –United Way of Palm Beach County and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) held a press conference to highlight Palm Beach County Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day, and to celebrate the free income-tax preparation service available through United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. The service is available at United Way’s 13 VITA sites, located throughout the county, for individuals and families with annual household incomes of $50,000 or less.
EITC is a federal tax credit for individuals and families who meet certain income and eligibility guidelines. It was established by Congress in 1975 to help working, low-income individuals and families. Sometimes people are not aware they qualify for EITC, and do not ask tax preparers about it. The VITA Program focuses on educating individuals about EITC, and helping eligible workers file for it.
“Through our Targeted Care Area of income, United Way of Palm Beach County supports programs that help working families in Palm Beach County achieve financial stability by increasing income and building and sustaining assets. The VITA Program is one such United Way service that benefits so many in our county, and one that has a huge impact on the local economy. People are using their refunds in such ways that stimulate our local economy. Overall, the VITA Program is helping to improve lives,” said Charles Anderson, president and CEO, United Way of Palm Beach County.
During the nine years United Way has offered the VITA Program in Palm Beach County, the program has had a $160 million impact on the local economy. Research shows that taxpayers receiving refunds through returns processed at VITA sites used their refunds for many purposes such as paying off debt, investing in education or housing, or opening a bank account. This is new money for the local economy. The research was part of an evaluation completed in 2006 by the Center for Urban and Economic Development at the University of Chicago.
The VITA Program also helps taxpayers save annually more than $1 million in tax-preparation fees they would have paid had they used a tax-preparation company.
Last year, more than 9,500 residents used the VITA Program, and received $16 million in refunds, including $6.2 million in Earned Income Tax Credits
“This is a remarkable percentage of EITC in total refunds, which shows that the VITA Program and United Way of Palm Beach County are highly effective in reaching our target market,” said Ron Albert, Territory Manager, IRS.
United Way of Palm Beach County’s VITA sites are located from Jupiter to Boca Raton and in Belle Glade and Pahokee. The sites are through April 17.
Each VITA site offers different hours of operation, including day, weeknight and weekend hours, making it easier for those who work. In addition, some sites have translators who speak Spanish, Creole, Chinese and Thai. All sites are wheelchair accessible.
All returns processed at VITA sites are e-filed so filers can receive their refund money quickly, normally in 10-12 days. The sites are staffed by IRS-certified VITA volunteer tax preparers who help those who are eligible, to claim EITC on their return.
To find a VITA site, residents need to call 2-1-1, the county’s information and referral line. United Way of Palm Beach County also has an updated list of VITA sites on its Web site www.unitedwaypbc.org/vita
Partners in this year’s VITA Program include United Way of Palm Beach County; the IRS; 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast; Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo. Additional support is provided by many local nonprofits and municipalities in which VITA sites are located.
United Way of Palm Beach County is improving lives and advancing the common good through its Targeted Care Areas of Education, Income and Health. United Way funds programs and services that fall within those three areas, and directs funding toward the community’s most pressing priority needs.
United Way of Palm Beach County is currently in the midst of its 2011-2012 annual campaign to raise $16 million in funds for such programs. More than 400 organizations and companies throughout Palm Beach County conduct workplace campaigns, which allow employees an opportunity to help people in need through an easy payroll deduction. In addition, United Way raises funds through donations from individual donors and through direct mail solicitations.
Visit www.unitedwaypbc.org to make an online donation on the secure donation web page. Any company or organization interested in conducting a workplace campaign is encouraged to call Larry Miller, Vice President of Resource Development, at (561) 375-6626.
About United Way of Palm Beach County
For more than 80 years, United Way of Palm Beach County has been dedicated to improving lives and advancing the common good in the community. United Way identifies the community’s most urgent needs and directs resources, agency partnerships and the efforts of volunteers to create measurable results. To learn more on how to GIVE, VOLUNTEER or ADVOCATE for the local United Way, call (561) 375.6600 or visit www.UnitedWayPBC.org