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These Volunteers Help Low-Income Families Prepare Their Taxes for Free

March 26, 2019
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These Volunteers Help Low-Income Families Prepare Their Taxes for Free
Joshua O'Connor
Each year, the IRS partners with organizations that help families with an annual income of less than $55,000 prepare their taxes for free. The Volunteer Tax Assistance Program (VITA) is one of them.

Filing taxes is required by law, but 57 percent of Americans don’t understand the tax code. That’s not surprising, since the code, and documents associated with it, add up to more than 76,550 pages.

Complicating things even further is the GOP tax bill that took effect in 2018: people who itemize deductions on their returns are paying less than they should during the year, thanks to outdated W-4 forms not tailored to the new code. That could mean a payment instead of a refund in April — something that 27 percent of taxpayers aren’t confident they’ll be able to pay, according to a survey by Tax Slayer, an online filing service.

That’s where VITA comes in: Thousands of trained and certified volunteers complete millions of tax forms for families who qualify for assistance each year. One of VITA’s main objectives is making sure families take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, something a fifth of taxpayers who qualify for don’t take. This credit lifted 5.8 million people out of poverty in 2016.

Watch the above video to learn more about how VITA and similar organizations work to help families in need during tax season.

More: This Anti-Poverty Initiative Was Born in a Hospital Waiting Room

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