For the ninth straight year, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont will offer free tax preparation services to qualified individuals through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Offered in partnership with Community Link and the Internal Revenue Service, this volunteer-driven program provides free tax assistance by certified tax preparers to individuals or families with an adjusted gross income in 2017 of $54,000 or less.
Goodwill is operating its VITA site at the Leon Levine Opportunity Center on the Goodwill Opportunity Campus – located at 5301 Wilkinson Blvd in west Charlotte – Wednesday, January 24 through Thursday, April 12. The site will be open each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6 – 9 p.m. by appointment only and each Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. for walk-ins. (The service will be closed on Saturday, March 3 and Saturday, March 31).
Goodwill encourages taxpayers to ask about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which provides tax breaks for some working families who earn up to $53,930 and can provide refunds of up to $6,318. The IRS estimates that one out of every five eligible workers does not claim the EITC each year because they lack awareness of the program, cannot afford costly tax preparation fees or fear they will lose public benefits by filing – dollars that ultimately go unclaimed.
Many individuals are also unaware that if they have a child in college, they can receive up to $2,500 by taking advantage of the education tax credit. Last year, through the VITA program, $17,350 was returned to 25 individuals who were eligible for the education tax credit at the Goodwill Opportunity Campus location.
“Last year, we completed 469 tax returns at the Goodwill Opportunity Center location though our partnership with the VITA program, resulting in $654,313 in refunds being returned to local residents,” said Petreana Anderson, Manager, Centralized Intake, Basic Needs Fulfillment & Partner Relations at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont. “The average tax return preparation can cost upwards of $200 – money that can be used instead to cover the cost of living such as food, rent, bills and transportation.”
To educate local taxpayers about tax benefits including the Earned Income Tax Credit, Goodwill will host a free Tax Awareness Day this Saturday, February 3 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Goodwill Opportunity Campus. Pre-registration is not required for this event, which will offer one-on-one financial and credit counseling, as well as educational tools from local community partners.
To schedule an appointment for Goodwill’s VITA site, or to see if you qualify for free tax preparation, call (704) 761-VITA (8482) Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. or visit goodwillsp.org/about-us/vita/, where you can also see the necessary documentation to bring with you.