Area Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program gearing up

VITA provides free IRS-certified tax return preparation for Lowcountry residents

From staff reports

VITA, a collaboration with the Internal Revenue Service, Beaufort County Human Services Alliance and United Way of the Lowcountry (UWLC), will kick off its popular tax-filing support program beginning the first week in February.

Staffed by local volunteers, VITA provides free preparation and electronic filing of income tax returns for individuals and families with low-to-moderate incomes who are eligible for tax credits. Last tax season, VITA helped file more than 2,400 free tax returns in Beaufort and Jasper Counties – generating more than $4 million in economic impact.

“Most people won’t think about income taxes for another couple of months. But low-income families are already counting the days until they can file,” UWLC President and CEO Dale Douthat said in a release. “VITA helps Lowcountry residents maximize tax refunds that can help pay for necessities, like food and rent, or provide a much-needed cushion in the event of an emergency.”

VITA’s free preparation sites will be open February through April at 10 locations throughout Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper counties. The sites include the Beaufort, Bluffton, Lobeco and St. Helena public libraries and The Deep Well Project in Beaufort County; Lowcountry Community Action Agency in Colleton County; and the Hardeeville and Ridgeland public libraries in Jasper County.

Taxpayers eligible for VITA services include people with annual incomes of less than $57,000; anyone with a physical disability; non-English-speaking citizens; and people older than 60. In addition to electronic filing for quick deposit of returns, VITA volunteers can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify, such as earned income tax credit, child tax credit, and credit for the elderly or the disabled.

Masks will be required at all locations, and COVID-19 health and safety precautions will be taken to prevent the spread of illness.

For more information about VITA services, site locations, dates, times and required documents, visit www.vitalowcountry.org.

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