United Way NCA’s VITA program supported over 8,000 in 2021 – returning $11.4M back into the hands of families

Jan 14, 2022

by Holly Martinez

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program delivers one of the most crucial resources to low-income communities across the National Capital Area. The program provides free tax help to low- and moderate-income individuals and families, persons with disabilities and limited-English-speaking taxpayers in Washington, DC and neighboring counties in Maryland and Virginia who need assistance in preparing their tax returns.

United Way of the National Capital Area (United Way NCA) partners with IRS-certified VITA tax volunteers at VITA sites to provide free, low-income tax assistance to individuals earning less than $57,000. While the Greater Washington Area has one of the highest percentages of eligible filers taking advantage of the credit, there are still thousands of households not receiving their maximum refund, either because they are unaware of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), or don’t have access to the tax filing services to help them apply for it. United Way NCA raises awareness and provides access to free tax preparation in DC or assisted self-filing services for eligible community members around the Capital Area, Virginia, and Maryland regions.

For a young mother of several children, living in a shelter and with limited education and technological experience, receiving support at a program site was life changing. She was able to complete her tax return online with the help of a tax coach and her returns yielded substantial federal and state refunds, which included significant Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) and Child Credits. This provided an opportunity for her to move from a shelter to independent living arrangements for herself and her family.

“I could not believe that I could prepare my own tax return. Is this amount for real?” she shared.

Credits earned back by individuals through their returns –as much as $13,000—is money they can use to invest in things like reliable transportation, education, healthcare, and reducing debt. For many working families across the National Capital area, the money on their return will be the largest sum of money they receive at one time all year.

In 2021, United Way NCA’s sponsored VITA program served 8,284 people and resulted in over $11.4 million back into the hands of families who need it the most. For those who were majorly affected by COVID, the free tax services offered through VITA gave many in the region an opportunity to mitigate the losses experienced as a result of being laid off or having to take time off to care for themselves or loved ones in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

 

To learn more, visit unitedwaynca.org/vita.

When none are ignored, all will thrive.

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