Free income tax assistance available

VITA Volunteer John Baynes serves clients at The Cooperative Ministry.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program is an IRS-sponsored program developed more than 40 years ago as a means for taxpayers to have their tax returns prepared free of charge.

For the eleventh year, The Cooperative Ministry will administer the VITA program in the greater Midlands. The VITA goal is to move people toward greater economic self-sufficiency and away from safety net services that are used during crisis situations. The Cooperative Ministry’s VITA Program provides free tax preparation and filing for individuals and families with a household income of $55,000 or less. In addition to providing free tax preparation, VITA works to ensure everyone in the community receives all of the tax credits and deductions for which they are eligible. VITA emphasizes the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Care Tax Credit, as well as tuition and other key credits.

In 2018, The Cooperative Ministry’s VITA Program prepared 8,362 tax returns at sites in Richland, Lexington, Fairfield, Newberry, Sumter, Orangeburg and Clarendon counties. These refunds generated $5.6 million in refunds and taxpayers saved an estimated $900,000 in preparation fees.

For the 2019 tax season, 18 sites across the greater Midlands will be staffed by IRS-certified community volunteers who will prepare and E-file federal and state income taxes. Hours vary to accommodate any schedule. For a complete listing of locations, please call 2-1-1. All VITA sites will be open Monday, Feb. 4 through Monday, April 15, 2019.

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