Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 5, 2021

Urban League expands free tax preparation program with new drop-off locations

Urban League of Greater Chattanooga has launched its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, an annual initiative that provides free tax preparation for qualifying individuals and families throughout Greater Chattanooga.

“The VITA program is critical for individuals and families who would otherwise face significant difficulties navigating the tax process,” says Urban League president and CEO Candy Johnson. “We know tax preparation can be confusing, particularly for our disadvantaged residents. We appreciate our community partners and volunteers for assisting thousands of individuals and families through what can be a daunting process.”

Last year, the Urban League completed 11,760 tax returns for individuals throughout the Chattanooga area, saving taxpayers over $3.8 million. Additionally, taxpayers who filed through the VITA program in Chattanooga received over $14.8 million in returns.

“For many families, tax season can feel like a significant financial burden,” says Val Palmer, VITA program coordinator. “Our mission in 2021 is to help break down the barriers of this process while adjusting how we operate to make sure our clients, volunteers and staff are safe.”

This year’s program will be socially distanced to abide by COVID-19 safety guidelines. Participants will arrive at one of 13 VITA locations, remain in their cars as they drop off forms and return after a volunteer has completed their tax returns.

Volunteers participate in training courses on the topics of tax law, tax return preparation and tax preparation software. The training is followed by an online course. Volunteers are then tested on what they have learned to become certified tax preparers.

Applications are now open for Chattanooga-area residents who qualify for the program. Individuals and households whose incomes were less than $58,000 last year might qualify for free tax preparation.

Others that might qualify are persons with disabilities, United Way members, seniors, retirees and limited English speaking taxpayers.

Guests will need to bring all of their tax documents, including W2 forms, 1099-S forms, Social Security Cards for their children, valid photo identification, Affordable Care Act Statements, 1095-A forms and home mortgage statements.

Each VITA site will have free information on tax documents, the Earned Income Tax Credit, IRS updates and the VITA locations list.

On average, VITA saves approximately $165 in filing and processing fees that would have been spent on a paid tax service.

There are 13 VITA locations where taxpayers can drop off their paperwork. View a list, as well as filing times, at www.ulchatt.net/vita-tax-resources.

Source: Urban League