VITA program offers tax assistance, help filing for available refunds
By Bradley Roberts
It’s no secret this past year has been full of challenges. But there’s money out there to help families meet those challenges.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is available to help low to moderate-income workers and families get a tax break. In 2021, the credit ranges from $543 go $6,728 depending on your tax-filing status and number of children.
United Way of Greater Atlanta can help families file their taxes and see if they qualify for these important tax credits, too. United Way celebrated EITC Awareness Day on Jan. 29 with a special virtual program with presentations from Internal Revenue Service tax officials, City of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams and United Way Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site partners.
The health, educational and financial impact of the pandemic on Greater Atlanta has been significant, United Way President and CEO Milton J. Little Jr. said Jan. 29.
“The immediate loss of income for thousands of individuals and families has also depleted or eliminated any savings for emergency needs — especially for hourly, service industry and gig workers,” Little says. “It’s important to acknowledge today the extreme hardships our nation and Greater Atlanta communities have — and continue to face — during this pandemic.”
Last year, more than 40 percent of families in Greater Atlanta were classified as “working poor,” but things are now much worse, Little says. This only highlights the need to spread awareness of tax credits that are available.
United Way has partnered with the City of Atlanta to spread EITC awareness and promote programs like VITA that help offer free assistance.
“Far too many Atlantans are leaving thousands of dollars on the table,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said. “We want to ensure that Atlantans have access to certified tax preparers who have the proper IRS training.”
There are more than 11,000 VITA sites across the United States, with 82,000+ volunteers, many of which are former IRS employees.
Kenneth Corbin, IRS wage and investment commissioner, said in 2020 more than 1 million Georgians filed EITC claims, which resulted in more than $2.9 billion delivered to families in need.
“That’s a lot of money added to the state’s economy, but, more importantly, it’s money into the pockets of families [that] have difficulty paying bills or need money to just live,” Corbin says.
The EITC is one of the nation’s biggest anti-poverty initiatives, and there are studies relating the EITC to better access to housing, health care, higher test scores, graduation rates and lower risk of chronic diseases, according to Tameka Lester, associate clinical professor for Georgia State University School of Law and associate director of the Philip C. Cook Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic.
You can find out more about the EITC and other refundable credits on the IRS’ website, by answering the EITC assistant questionnaire and you can learn more about United Way’s VITA Program on United Way’s website or by emailing email@example.com for more information
“In collaboration with our community partners, United Way of Greater Atlanta has been on the frontlines addressing the challenges that so many of our communities face,” Little says. “And we understand that only through collaboration… are we going to improve the lives of children, families and communities across Greater Atlanta during this pandemic and beyond.”