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VITA appointments to begin Jan. 25

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Jan 20, 2021


The free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, offered through United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee, will kick off at the end of the month for those individuals and families making less than $66,000 per year.

Area volunteer engagement manager Mary Meador said appointments will begin on Jan. 25 this year due to the IRS announcement that the agency will not begin accepting tax returns until Friday, Feb. 12. The VITA program, which is held at Lehigh Community Services, will begin completing tax returns on Jan. 25 and hold them in the system until they can be transmitted to the IRS on Feb. 12. 

The VITA program has both the option of traditional face-to-face appointments, or a drop-off service. Appointments can be made by calling 239-433-3900, or by visiting https://www.unitedwaylee.org/freetaxprep/. Face coverings are required and health and safety protocols are established.

Those using either of the services must have their picture I.D.; Social Security cards or ITIN letters; all of their W2s, 1099s, and their 1095A if they have Marketplace Health Insurance, as well as their bank routing and account number for direct deposit.

The traditional appointments are held from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The drop-off service is held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays.

The drop-off service is simple for those who wish not to make a face-to-face appointment.

“Clients complete an intake form and consent form and they get interviewed by a tax preparer to make sure we have all their documents and that their return is within our program’s scope of service,” Meador said. “The client leaves their tax documents at the site where they are kept secured until they return the following Tuesday by which time the return will have been completed and printed, and is ready to be reviewed by the client and signed.”

The VITA program is run by IRS certified volunteers who work with clients to make sure they get their maximum credits, refunds and any stimulus money. With the service being free, it also saves the client anywhere from $250 to $300 in preparation fees.