United Way, RUSD, Racine Public Library, Racine County and the City of Racine partner to support taxpayers through VITA

Feb. 8, 2022 (Racine, WI) — United Way of Racine County invites eligible Racine County taxpayers to get their taxes done for free, in-person or virtually, with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

VITA utilizes IRS-certified volunteers to provide free tax filing and preparation to low-to-moderate income individuals and families, ensuring they receive every penny of their tax return. A tax refund can be the biggest paycheck many people receive each year and can help individuals and families pay rent, buy groceries and afford other necessities. United Way has managed the program in Racine County since 2017; during that time, VITA has returned over $3.8 million to the community through completed tax returns.

This year, VITA will offer a mix of in-person and virtual services. Taxpayers who wish to get their taxes done in person can sign up for one of VITA’s three in-person sites at UnitedWayRacine.org/VITA or via phone at (262) 383-2555. This year, VITA will have in-person sites at Workforce Solutions, the Racine Public Library and Case High School – Academies of Racine. Masks and social distancing are required at all VITA sites for both volunteers and clients. In-person VITA sites can file tax returns for this year and back to 2016 for any individual with an income of $66,000 or less.

A VITA site host since 2017, Workforce Solutions functions as a one-stop-shop for VITA clients. Along with hosting VITA, Workforce Solutions offers adult education courses, health services and more.

“Workforce Solutions is excited to once again partner with United Way of Racine County to offer this free resource to the Racine County community,” said Katie Kasprzak, Racine County Workforce Solutions supervisor.

Racine Public Library Director Angela Zimmermann echoed Kasprzak’s excitement.

“Literacy in all its forms is at the center of what the Racine Public Library offers, which makes the VITA program a natural tie-in to the library’s services,” She said. “This program is a great way to make taxes more accessible and easier to understand, and we hope many of our community members will take advantage of the support United Way’s volunteers are offering.”

Similar to previous years, the City of Racine will waive parking fees at the library during VITA site operational hours to eliminate any potential financial barriers to taxpayers accessing VITA services.

Case High School’s VITA site helps people get their taxes done for free and provides an exceptional learning opportunity to the high school students in teacher Courtney Wynia’s class.

“My students get the unique opportunity to apply their accounting skills in a real-world setting by filing and completing tax returns as VITA volunteers,” she said. “I love seeing their confidence and talents grow as they apply these skills to serve our community.”

This year, VITA is also offering a variety of virtual tax services. Drop-off services are the perfect option for taxpayers who don’t want to use a completely virtual option and don’t mind waiting up to one week for their return to be completed. To utilize drop-off services, clients can schedule an appointment to drop-off tax documents and begin the filing process. VITA volunteers will then complete the return, using text messaging and phone calls to communicate with the taxpayer. The client will be notified when their return is finished and can elect to sign and file electronically or in-person once the return is completed.

Clients who qualify for VITA services and do not wish to schedule an appointment for in-person or drop-off services can get still get their taxes done by VITA volunteers through the virtual option using the GetYourRefund software. This completely virtual option walks taxpayers through a series of questions and steps to upload key tax documents. The virtual option is best accessed using a smart phone or tablet. After the client submits their documents, a VITA volunteer will schedule a virtual intake interview with the client. The completed return will also be sent to the client virtually. Clients who wish to use this option must meet the same income eligibility requirements as the in-person VITA sites. Taxpayers can use the virtual option to file returns as far back as 2018. Taxpayers who want to file their taxes on their own, have an income of up to $73,000 and have a return out of scope for VITA, can use MyFreeTaxes to file their state and federal taxes for free. All of these options are explained and can be accessed at www.UnitedWayRacine.org/VITA.

Employers, community partners or service providers interested in bringing VITA services to their location have the option of scheduling a popup VITA site or customizing the services offered to meet the needs of their staff and/or clients. VITA promotional materials are available upon requested.

“We are excited to be able to offer so many free tax services to the Racine community this year,” said United Way Initiatives Manager Lori Riffer. “Now, it’s easier than ever to make sure you get the refund you’re entitled to.”

To utilize any of these free resources and to learn more, visit: UnitedWayRacine.org/VITA.