Beginning on Jan. 21 and staggered through the first week of February, 29 statewide Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites are offering free tax preparation services to low- and middle-income working Rhode Islanders.
Funded by United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI), the VITA program ensures that those who earn less than $52,000 annually have access to tax services in order to receive the money they are due in refunds and credits.
Each VITA site, which represents a community agency, is certified by the IRS and offered services during last year’s tax season. Participating agencies successfully applied for funding through UWRI for a three-year grant cycle beginning in 2014 and recruited and trained volunteer tax professionals who will help taxpayers complete their income tax forms.
In Warwick, free tax preparation services through the VITA program are being offered by Westbay Community Action, 218 Buttonwoods Ave., 732-4666, ext. 121.
Many of the sites will offer services in both English and Spanish, and returns will be filed electronically to expedite the return of refunds.
Launched locally in 2005 to help Rhode Islanders understand and take full advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Education Credit and refunds they are due, the VITA initiative has returned more than $92 million to working households over the past nine years. In 2013 alone, nearly 9,000 taxpayers took advantage of the program – more than any previous year – resulting in over $16 million returned to the economy.
“The VITA program is an important resource for our working neighbors, particularly during these difficult economic times, as it provides access to the resources that put money back in their pockets,” said Anthony Maione, president and CEO of United Way of Rhode Island. “Not only will this initiative help stabilize households across our state, it will also bolster the economy – it’s truly a win-win effort.”
Rhode Islanders looking to take advantage of the VITA program should review the list of available sites or contact United Way 2-1-1 in Rhode Island by dialing 2-1-1 to find a VITA site in their community. Appointments are necessary at most sites and the program will continue through mid-April. Select sites offer evening and weekend hours.