United Way Preparing for 2015 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Initiative, Will Recognize Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day on Jan. 30

PROVIDENCE, RI – A highly successful program supported by United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI) that helped return $17,547,572 to working Rhode Islanders and the local economy last year is set to return for 2015: the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Site/Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Initiative.

United Way’s VITA/EITC initiative ensures that working Rhode Islanders who earn less than $53,000 annually have access to free tax services in order to receive the money they are due in credits and refunds. In 2014, more than 11,500 taxpayers took advantage of the program—more than any previous year—returning millions to Rhode Islanders and the state’s economy by way of the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Education Tax Credit, and refunds.

“The VITA program is an important resource, not only because it puts money our working neighbors have earned back in their pockets, but also for its impact on the economy—these are dollars people can spend on clothing, groceries, their utility bills, and car repairs,” said Anthony Maione, president & CEO of United Way of Rhode Island. “Not only do participating sites provide free tax preparation, they also offer financial literacy training, which supports the program’s overall goals, helping people earn money, keep money, and grow money for future needs.”

Last year’s VITA program featured 25 sites across the state, each representing a community agency certified by the IRS. With help from UWRI, participating agencies recruit and train volunteer tax preparers who help taxpayers complete their income tax returns and make sure they receive the credits they’re due. Many of the sites offer services in both English and Spanish, and returns may be filed electronically to expedite the return of refunds.

Launched locally in 2005, the VITA program has returned nearly $110 million to working Rhode Island households since its inception in the Ocean State.

On Friday, January 30, UWRI will join its partners across the country to recognize EITC Awareness Day to reach those eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit and encourage them to explore whether they qualify. According to the IRS, four out of five eligible taxpayers claim and receive this important credit. In Rhode Island, in 2014 alone, $6.9 million of the dollars returned to local taxpayers through the VITA program was the result of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

This year’s EITC Awareness Day holds added importance as millions of workers across the country could qualify for the first time due to a drop in earnings or changes to their marital or parental statuses. Qualifying for the Earned Income Tax Credit could mean food, shelter and clothing for many families, helping to stabilize their household.

For more information about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Site/Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Initiative, please call 2-1-1, United Way of Rhode Island’s 24/7 free and confidential information and referral helpline.

About United Way of Rhode Island 

United Way of Rhode Island has been working to improve the quality of life in Rhode Island communities for more than 80 years. UWRI’s mission is to mobilize the caring power of the community to improve the lives of people in need and address the issues Rhode Islanders care most about. For more information, visit www.LIVEUNITEDri.org.

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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