United Way VITA Programs Concludes Tax Season, Prepared over $1.7M in Returns

news release

The 2022 tax season concludes with $1,733,145 million in returns for Indian River County households who received free tax preparation services offered by the United Way.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a partnership between United Way and the IRS offered annually from January through Tax Day to assist families and individuals with low to moderate incomes prepare their tax returns for free. This year, twenty-eight IRS-trained and certified volunteers ensured taxpayers received all the credits for which they were eligible and helped put an average refund of $1,867 back into the pockets of Indian River County residents.

“We served more people this year than ever before, especially at a time when we know many households in our community faced financial hardships due to Covid-19,” explained Meredith Egan, CEO, United Way of Indian River County. “It’s a milestone we’re really proud of and look forward to making that number grow each year.”

Barbara Lafond greets and registers incoming tax preparation clients

Concluding on April 17th, the VITA program filed a total of 1,360 tax returns, which have an average adjusted gross income of $23,000 per household. Indian River County residents received $516,897 in Earned Income Tax Credits, $27,768 in Child Tax Credits, and $6,547 in Education Tax Credits.

“Because of you, I was able to get my home fumigated for termites which was otherwise unaffordable,” said one tax client in a letter. “Thank you for helping people like me. Your kindness is much appreciated. You are a blessing!”

VITA is critical in helping residents obtain the money available to them and can help a household survive. There is no cost to clients, saving a household an average of $175 in tax preparation fees. Instead, this money can be used to purchase groceries, pay bills, or go towards an emergency savings fund. This year, the total paid preparer cost savings averaged $238,000 for VITA clients in Indian River County.

“We absolutely could not do this without our fleet of dedicated volunteers,” said Stacy Benezra, Community Impact Coordinator, United Way of Indian River County. “With over 2,124 hours logged, they give it their all for our community. We can never thank them enough.”

This program would not be possible without the local sponsors helping cover the costs of offering this service; Jacoby and Handley, PLLC and Kmetz, Elwell, Graham, and Associates PLLC. United Way also congratulates VITA volunteers Ben Tartaglia and David Geiser for receiving a 10-Year Milestone Award from the IRS.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a VITA volunteer or sponsor, please contact Stacy Benezra, Community Impact Coordinator at (772) 567-8900, ext. 120, or Stacy.Benezra@UnitedWayIRC.org.

About United Way of Indian River County

United Way of Indian River County (UWIRC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every community member. United Way works with local programs to provide resources to individuals and families in crisis today, while working year-round to improve community conditions and create lasting solutions. We are effectively building a strong foundation and improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community. For more information about your local United Way, please call (772) 567-8900 or visit our website, UnitedWayIRC.org.

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