Right about now, you may be starting to feel that familiar sense of dread as you realize - you're going to have to start thinking about your taxes soon.
Trying to figure out your tax return can be overwhelming, and not everyone can afford to hire a professional company like H&R Block.
United Way Silicon Valley (UWSV) is here to help - with free tax preparation services being offered in Milpitas and surrounding areas for families who qualify.
UWSV is working with a coalition of financial institutions and nonprofit and government agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), to connect eligible local families to free tax services through its "Earn It! Keep It! Save It!" program.
People who qualify for free tax help can find the nearest Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site by calling 211 or visiting www.211scc.org. These VITA sites are located at various churches, libraries, nonprofit organizations, and community centers in Santa Clara County and across the nation.
Hours and locations coming up in Milpitas are indicated at the end of this article.
“W2 forms go out this month, and we know a lot of hardworking local families are in a hurry to get their taxes done because they need the refund,” said Carole Leigh Hutton, president and CEO of UWSV. “We are encouraging those who qualify to wait until the VITA sites open later this month so they can get their taxes done for free.”
VITA sites offer free tax preparation services to families who make $50,000 a year or less. Tax preparation services are provided by trained, IRS-certified volunteers in a number of languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Russian. The list of VITA sites located at www.211scc.org, or available by calling 211, indicates which languages are spoken at each site as well as the hours of operation and whether the services are available on a walk-in basis or by appointment.
Tax assistance volunteers can help individuals and families who qualify get their Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other tax benefits. The EITC is a federal tax benefit for working families with low to moderate incomes. This year the maximum credit is $5,751 for a family with three or more children, $5,112 for a family with two children, $3,094 for a family with one child, and $464 if there are no children.
“The EITC improves financial stability for many local families because it significantly increases their income,” Hutton said. “It also helps to bring money into the local economy.”
Last year, VITA sites helped to bring more than $7.1 million in tax refunds to Santa Clara County.
UVSW helps to recruit and train volunteers for the 45 VITA sites located in Santa Clara County. The organization also helps to promote the free tax service through 211 and other efforts.
In addition to free tax preparation services and electronic filing, VITA sites also offer assistance in applying for certain public benefits as well as referrals to financial education and credit counseling services, including UWSV’s free Credit Coaching program. Participants are matched with a specially trained volunteer mentor who can help them improve their credit scores. United Way also offers free financial management classes.
UWSV is committed to improving community conditions by helping local people become financially stable and independent. To drive positive change, UWSV helps people help themselves by identifying critical needs, mobilizing the caring power of the community, and aligning resources to achieve the best solutions. United Way is focused on the building blocks for a good life: income, education and health.
For more information about United Way Silicon Valley, visit www.uwsv.org.
Free Tax Preparation Services/VITA Sites Coming Up in Milpitas:
- : Feb. 4 - April 7. Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- at Ranch 99: Feb. 4 - April 15. By Appointment Only. Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.