VERO BEACH, May 29, 2023 – The 2023 tax season concludes with $1,511,260 million in returns for Indian River County households who received free tax preparation services offered by the United Way.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a partnership between United Way and the IRS offered annually from January through Tax Day to assist families and individuals with low to moderate incomes in preparing their tax returns for free. This year, thirty-three IRS-trained and certified volunteers ensured taxpayers received all the credits for which they were eligible and helped put an average refund of $776 back into the pockets of Indian River County residents.
“Volunteers are essential to making sure that everyone has access to the financial aid they are entitled to, and we are proud to be part of an effort that provides free tax preparation,” explained Meredith Egan, CEO, United Way of Indian River County. “These services not only help to promote financial stability and economic security for individuals but also to stimulate the overall economy by allowing more money to be circulated and invested in our communities. It truly demonstrates the power of community and collective action.”
Concluding on April 18th, the VITA program filed 1,548 tax returns, with an average adjusted gross income of $23,500 per household. Indian River County residents received $283,210 in Earned Income Tax Credits, $78,977 in Child Tax Credits, and $14,631 in Education Tax Credits.
“I’ve been using United Way’s tax program since before COVID – and when you’re tight on money, a tax return can feel like a lifesaver. It’s helped me pay off a bill or two, get you back on track, and not worry about tax prep costs.”
VITA is critical in helping residents obtain the money available to them and can help a household survive. There is no cost to clients, saving a household an average of $220 in tax preparation fees. Instead, this money can be used to purchase groceries, pay bills, or go towards an emergency savings fund. This year, the total paid preparer cost savings averaged $340,560 for VITA clients in Indian River County.
“This year, these volunteers have increased the number of returns completed by nearly 14% compared to 2022, providing an invaluable service to families and individuals who need it most. It’s incredible to see their positive impact,” said Stacy Benezra, Community Impact Coordinator, United Way of Indian River County. “With over 2,766 hours logged, they give it their all for our community. This is a cause that is dear to our hearts, and we are delighted to have the support of our volunteers. We can never thank them enough.”
This program would not be possible without the local sponsors helping cover the costs of offering this service; Kmetz, Elwell, Graham, and Associates PLLC and Offutt Barton Schlitt LLC. Additionally, United Way received a grant from the IRS for a total of $25,000. United Way also congratulates VITA volunteers Andrea Allen, Benjamin Tartaglia, David Geiser, Elizabeth Fallon, Jeannie Gustafson, Marilyn Kindy, Martin Zickert, Pam Waybright, Robert Reilly, and Ruth Durkee-Killinger for reaching their 5-year-plus milestones with the VITA Program.
If you would like to learn more about becoming a VITA volunteer or sponsor, please contact Stacy Benezra, Community Impact Coordinator at (772) 567-8900, ext. 120, or Stacy.Benezra@UnitedWayIRC.org.
About United Way of Indian River County
United Way of Indian River County (UWIRC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every community member. United Way works with local programs to provide resources to individuals and families in crisis today, while working year-round to improve community conditions and create lasting solutions. We are effectively building a strong foundation and improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community. For more information about your local United Way, please call (772) 567-8900 or visit our website, UnitedWayIRC.org.