United Way Suncoast Helps Taxpayers Navigate New IRS Tax Refund Delay

VITA program helps low to moderate income families keep 100% of their refunds

Tampa, Fla. – January 17, 2017 — It is more important than ever to prepare accurate income tax returns during the 2017 tax season, given a new law that requires the IRS to delay issuing refunds for certain taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until February 15, at the earliest. The law has no exceptions and is designed to make it easier for the IRS to find and stop fraud and identity theft.

The IRS relies on programs like VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), offered by United Way Suncoast to help qualifying individuals file their taxes, completely free of charge. United Way Suncoast offers via 42 locations in DeSoto, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Sarasota counties where individuals earning less than $64,000 are eligible to have their federal tax returns prepared, e-filed and direct deposited at no cost. Available locations and hours of operations are listed here.

In 2016, nearly 300 IRS-certified volunteers helped more than 8,484 individuals in DeSoto, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Sarasota counties qualify for and keep 100% of their refunds – more than $12.8 million – without worrying about hidden fees or unexpected charges. Individuals may visit a VITA site or complete their taxes online for free using www.MyFreeTaxes.com.

“On average, many of our clients receive more than thirty percent of their annual income in tax refunds, making their tax returns vital to their financial lives. Through the VITA program, United Way Suncoast helps individuals and families receive their maximum refund to use on necessities, like paying bills, paying down debt, making new purchases and saving,” said Douglas Griesenauer, Sr. Manager – Financial Stability, United Way. “We are dedicated to helping as many community members as we can, and we encourage taxpayers to be wary of preparers promising faster refunds through expensive financial products, like loans.”

About United Way Suncoast
United Way Suncoast staff, volunteers and trusted community partners connect people, create change, and impact lives in DeSoto, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Sarasota counties by developing, enhancing and implementing services and programs to help create a stronger, more vibrant community. United Way Suncoast fights for the education and financial stability of every person in the community through educational programs that give children the skills to succeed and help adults achieve long-term financial stability, as well as provide support services to those who need it most.
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• To find Suncoast-area volunteer opportunities, visit www.volunteersuncoast.org.
• For more information, please call 941.366.2686 (Sarasota office) or 813.274.0933 (Tampa office), or visit www.unitedwaysuncoast.org.