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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance helping Hoosiers

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Each year, thousands of Central Indiana residents pay hundreds of dollars to file their taxes without knowing they may be eligible for free filing.

The Indy Free Tax Prep program eases the financial burden of the tax preparation process and ensures individuals and families with a household income of $66,000 or less receive their full tax refund.

The program is part of a network of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites throughout Central Indiana and is administered by United Way of Central Indiana (UWCI).

Mary Jones, senior director for community impact at UWCI, said the organization has seen the impact the program has had on individuals and communities as a whole.

“This is overall one of United Way’s strategies for financial literacy and financial stability,” Jones said. “Last year, we were able to serve 6,900 households in Marion County that received back $6.3 million in returns, and this was all done without any fees or cost for them, and they can use those funds for what they need most … like groceries or paying off debts.”

Jones emphasized the money residents get from tax returns ultimately returns back to the community, helping to create financial stability in neighborhoods as well as individual households.

“Indy Free Tax Prep is designed to ensure that our residents receive all the tax credits and deductions for which they are eligible,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said in a press release. “With the money residents save on tax preparation fees, they can work to reduce debt and build savings. This program supports United Way’s goal of reducing the number of financially unstable households in our community.”

Kimberly Brown-Harden, branch manager at the 38th Street public library, said the tax assistance program is important to the community because there aren’t as many resources.

“We are in the middle of what we consider not only a food desert,” she said, “but we’re in the middle of a financial desert.”

VITA sites in Marion County

• Heritage Place of Indianapolis, 4550 N. Illinois St., 317-283-6662

• Holy Angels Church, 740 W. 28th St., angel.ingr@gmail.com

• John Boner Neighborhood Centers, 2236 E. 10th St., 317-808-2393

• Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, 1920 W. Morris St., apiland@maryrigg.org

• Oasis of Hope, 1701 E. 25th St., 317-925-7513

• Shepherd Community, 4107 E. Washington St., 317-375-0203

• Southeast Community Services, 901 Shelby St. 317-236-7400

• Zion Hope, 5950 E. 46th St., 317-643-1304

• 38th Street Library, 5420 E. 38th St., 317-275-4352

What to bring

• Valid photo ID 

• Social security cards for everyone on the return 

• W2 forms 

• Interest and dividend statements 

• Forms 1095-A 

• All 1099 forms 

• Education expense receipts and Form 1098 

• Child care receipts, along with provider’s address and social security number or employer identification number 

• Real estate property tax receipts 

• Landlord name and address 

• Bank, credit union or prepaid card account and routing number 

• Copy of last year’s tax return (not required but helpful)

Learn more at uwci.org/vita-2020.

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