CONTACT: Roland Martinez
SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 24, 2018) — Friday, January 26, is National Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day. To celebrate, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program held a kickoff event today to start the 2018 tax season, which runs through April 17. U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, District 2 City Councilman William “Cruz” Shaw and District 9 City Councilman John Courage joined United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of San Antonio, and the City of San Antonio Department of Human Services (DHS) for the event. VITA provides free tax preparation service for individuals and families who earned up to $60,000 last year.
In 2017, the VITA San Antonio Coalition worked with hundreds of community volunteers to prepare more than 31,000 tax returns and returned more than $54 million in refunds to taxpayers, including more than $21 million in Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) dollars. This free service also saved taxpayers an estimated $10 million in tax preparation fees.
“There may be no free lunch, but there is free tax assistance, thanks to hardworking VITA volunteers who ensure our neighbors get the tax relief they’ve earned,” Congressman Doggett said. “The Earned Income Tax Credit remains one of our most effective ways of both fighting poverty and growing our local economy.”
Councilman Shaw said, “The VITA Coalition understands that a working family’s tax refund is a critical part of their household budget and is something they look forward to. A tax refund can also be an opportunity for saving and achieving short-term and long-term financial goals.”
Councilman Courage said, “While tax season is not something typically celebrated, I am proud to celebrate the City’s VITA program, which allows San Antonians the opportunity to invest in their homes, communities, and families by way of making the season a little less stressful.”
Melody Woosley, Director, Department of Human Services, said, “DHS facilitates robust partnerships with community agencies to provide services to our community. The partnership of the VITA San Antonio Coalition has yielded one of the most innovative and successful free tax preparation programs in the nation and is one of our key programs in supporting family well-being for our community.”
Mark Nerio, Chair of United Way’s Strengthening Families Issue Council and Vice President and Community Development Specialist for BB&T, said, “VITA is an incredibly valuable service to our community. We focus on helping working families file their taxes and claim the important credits they qualify for. In particular, VITA emphasizes the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is arguably one of the single strongest anti-poverty tools at our disposal, as it can work toward pulling a family out of poverty simply by claiming the credit. We look forward to helping clients throughout San Antonio during what we know will be another successful VITA season.”
Antonio Fernandez, CEO and President of Catholic Charities, said, “We are here to help our community’s families by providing a free service for them to claim their hard earned money quickly and accurately. By doing this, our goal is to have our clients continue on a path to self-sufficiency gaining confidence and hope to manage other life challenges they may encounter.”
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) created VITA program more than 40 years ago with local communities to provide free tax return preparation to low-income taxpayers, using IRS-trained community volunteers. VITA is an important tool in helping to ensure that all eligible residents are able to claim the EITC, Child Tax Credit, and other credits they might be eligible for.
The IRS joins partners nationwide to launch the EITC Awareness Day outreach campaign to ensure millions of workers get the EITC they earned and get it quickly. Awareness Day aims to increase eligibility awareness of refundable credits that many families miss out on. Along with the EITC, this includes refundable taxes paid, the Child Tax Credit, Child Care Tax Credit, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC).
For more information on VITA locations and services, go to www.vitasa.org.