In preparation for next year’s tax season, United Way of Summit County is recruiting volunteers for its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. United Way’s VITA program provides free tax preparation services for Summit County residents. Volunteer training is free, and no experience is necessary.
United Way’s VITA program advances the organization’s Bold Goal 3 – to financially empower 11,000 Summit County residents. Housed in the Akron Financial Empowerment Center, which was created through a partnership between United Way and the city of Akron, VITA helps working residents take advantage of programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
This year, during the program’s first tax season, VITA volunteers helped file nearly 900 returns, resulting in an average refund of $1,422 – more than the mean monthly cost of rent in Summit County.
According to a recent United Way study, 40 percent of Summit County households and 57 percent of Akron households struggle to afford Ohio’s basic cost of living. The money VITA clients receive in the form of a refund can help families pay down debt, put food on the table and save for the future. And because VITA services are free, families keep their entire tax refund, rather than paying a portion of it to a commercial tax preparation company.
“There’s a real need for this kind of service in our community, and VITA volunteers get to make an immediate difference in the lives of families in our community,” said Jim Mullen, president and CEO of United Way of Summit County. “By simply committing their time, each of these volunteers is bringing in thousands of dollars for our community.”
VITA volunteer training will take place in December and January, and the one-day training session is free. No prior tax preparation or financial experience is necessary. For information on United Way’s VITA program, or to register as a volunteer, visit uwsummit.org/vita.