More than 8,700 filers received free online tax support through the virtual VITA campaign
Hartford, Conn. (July 1, 2021) – The COVID-19 pandemic created new realities for the 2021 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) campaign, which annually mobilizes volunteers to help taxpayers receive the refunds and credits they have earned at no cost. This year, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, Human Resources Agency of New Britain and The Village for Families & Children partnered together to create “Virtual VITA”, which provided taxpayers with safe, contactless options to securely prepare and file tax returns with the help of volunteer preparers. More than 8,700 tax filers received free online tax filing services from 232 trained, IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers resulting in nearly $24.5 million in refunds and credits being returned to our local communities to date.
The VITA program was available at no cost, virtually to individuals and families with 2020 household incomes up to $57,000. The average federal refund was $2,249* and the average Federal Earned Income Tax credit was $1,757*.
“United Way has been a proud partner in the VITA campaign for twenty years and has recruited volunteers for nine of those years,” said Paula S. Gilberto, President and CEO, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut. “It takes a coalition of donors, partners, and volunteers to ensure the continued success of VITA. We are grateful to The Village and HRA as well as the hundreds of volunteer tax professionals who serve as the campaign’s foundation.”
During this year’s tax season, VITA volunteers contributed 11,251 hours of service, a value of $321,104 based on The Independent Sector’s national estimate of $28.54 per hour of volunteer time.
“Our army of VITA volunteers pivoted, and battled through the pandemic, offering an online solution to help VITA clients file their taxes with the same level of confidence and accuracy as they would have received at our in-person VITA sites,” said Laura O’Keefe, Director, Financial Opportunity Center at The Village for Families & Children.
“For some households, their tax refund check is the biggest check they receive all year,” said Dr. Marlo Greponne, Executive Director, Human Resources Agency of New Britain, Inc.. “Those are dollars that can be used for everything from servicing basic needs to starting a new savings program. Many people are counting on their refund to help support them through the pandemic-related economic downturn. This year, each refund just meant a lot more. Our VITA volunteers are grateful to help during this stressful time.”
VITA volunteers are still filing returns for taxpayers with incomes up to $57,000 that qualify for VITA. Tax filers may continue to sign up for Virtual VITA assistance at 211ct.org/taxhelp if you received tax forms (such as a W2) late, filed for an extension or have a stimulus-only return.
In addition, MyFreeTaxes.com, is a free, self-preparation service available to all tax filers with no income requirement, was also available for individuals interested in preparing their tax return online.