The bad news? It’s tax season. The good news? The United Way Suncoast can help.
Beginning next week, individuals and families who earned less than $74,000 last year will be eligible to have their taxes filed for free with the help of IRS-certified volunteers through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program supported by the United Way.
The annual program began more than 50 years ago to help low- and middle-income earners complete and electronically file their taxes for free.
The main focus is to make sure taxpayers receive the credits for which they qualify, said Margarita Sorah, a financial manager with the United Way.
Every year, she said, people go without valuable tax credits because they don’t know how to fill out their returns.
“We’re talking about billions of dollars of unclaimed money,” Sorah said. “And it’s earned money, it’s theirs... this is something that every taxpayer who qualifies is entitled to.”
The largest credit she’s seen since working with the program was $11,000, which was returned to a single mom.
“She had five children,” Sorah said. “It’s money that could be very well used.”
The assistance program offers on-site appointments, which take around an hour to complete, or people can leave their paperwork and later return to review their filings. People who are able to complete most of their tax return at home but who still want support can get help online.
In addition to free tax filings, Sorah said, the program offers financial advising as well as access to pro bono lawyers who can help with IRS disputes.
This year, the program will have its own specialists who can help anyone lacking a Social Security number file taxes using an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).
Visit UWSVITA.org or call 833-897-8482 for more information. People should bring a government-issued ID for the primary and secondary individual on the return and original Social Security cards.
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More upcoming events
- Tampa Taxathon, an all-day free tax-filing event for walk-ins or by appointment, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 4 at 4001 W Tampa Bay Blvd., Tampa (Technology Building, second floor).
- Sarasota Taxathon, for walk-ins or by appointment, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 11 at 1800 Second St., Suite 102, Sarasota.