VITA Program volunteers

Dan Goldstein, left, and Sandra Gault are among the VITA volunteers who helped Frederick County residents with tax preparation. VITA volunteers put in a total of 1,200 hours, which is a 72 percent increase from 2016. VITA is a program of the Prosperity Center at United Way of Frederick County.

The Prosperity Center at United Way of Frederick County’s free tax preparation program (VITA) announced another successful year, bringing back over $1.2 million in total tax refunds, from more than 700 tax returns and 1,200 volunteer hours spent helping Frederick County households file taxes.

The VITA program provides free tax preparation to individuals that make less than $54,000 a year and utilizes IRS-certified volunteers who are united in their goal of helping to improve financial stability of Frederick County residents. This year, those who used the Prosperity Center’s free tax preparation program saved a combined $175,000 in tax preparer fees.

“Not only does our VITA office do your taxes for free, but our volunteers will look out for you and go the extra mile,” said Rebecca Full, a VITA volunteer.

One example of going the extra mile is what one volunteer faced this year. While preparing taxes, the volunteer realized that one taxpayer’s real estate taxes had not been paid for the current year. The volunteer explained the situation and provided guidance to the taxpayer on the process of paying the taxes which the county considered to be in arrears. Acting on that advice, the taxpayer was able to pay the overdue taxes and thereby avoided the imminent tax sale of their residence.

“It is of the utmost importance to invest in long-term solutions for those families with limited resources,” said President and CEO Ken Oldham, “so that they can find solid financial footing. The free tax preparation program here at the Prosperity Center helps families by giving them access to their maximum refund at no cost for the service.”

Compared to 2016, the Prosperity Center’s free tax preparation program reported a 37 percent increase in returns, as well as a 38 percent increase in tax refunds. The VITA volunteers put in a combined 1,200 hours, which is a 72 percent increase from 2016.

To learn more about the Prosperity Center at United Way of Frederick County’s free tax preparation pro-gram, VITA, visit www.prosperitycenter.org/taxprep.

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