As tax season begins, multiple organizations can help individuals and families that make less than $64,000 file their taxes for free.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance is an IRS program that has been in operation for over 50 years and specializes in assisting low-income and disabled individuals with their taxes.
BYU’s VITA lab opened on Jan. 29 and has more than 100 volunteers ready to assist with taxes, head site coordinator Joseph Hsu said.
The lab is open Monday through Friday and is available for walk-ins only, he said.
“If students have all their forms already, go to the labs sooner rather than later,” Hsu said. “The later it gets in the season, like mid-February, some people wait, like, three or four hours at least.”
The lab can only help if you have all the necessary documentation on hand, he said. The forms checklist can be found here.
“Taxes can be scary for people … so it’s a good opportunity for people to get their taxes done without having to stress about it,” Hsu said.
In addition to BYU’s VITA lab, there are other VITA locations in Provo.
The United Way of Utah County is one of Utah’s three local branches of the worldwide nonprofit organization.
Danielle Moran has been with United Way for more than three years and currently serves as the marketing manager for the Utah county branch.
The branch has 25 volunteers for the Provo and Lehi VITA locations, she said.
“We definitely always need volunteers,” Moran said. “We rely on volunteers to make this all very successful.”
United Way offers tax help appointments scheduled on the hour. They usually take an hour to an hour and a half depending on how complicated the taxes are, Moran said.
They also offer a free online tax filing service for those that would prefer an online experience.
“MyFreeTaxes.com is very similar to H&R Block or TurboTax or any of those things, but it’s completely free. So if you make under $79,000 you can just use that service for free,” Moran said. “We’re trying to get the word out to students especially because I would assume most students make less than $79,000.”
Free tax assistance takes away the barrier to entry, she said. Individuals can save the $200 they would pay an accountant and put that toward groceries or providing for their family.
The Utah County branch celebrated their 60th anniversary last year and reflected on their community objectives throughout the years, Moran said.
“We’re each focused on our local community. So everything that we do is focused on health, education, and financial stability,” Moran explained. “We do a community assessment every three years. And as we do that assessment, we see what the needs are in the community.”
The goals shifted from providing accessible transportation to encouraging literacy. Now, the organization is focused more on raising awareness for mental and emotional health.
“I would say community centers are one of our best ways that we try and combat loneliness right now. That feeling of togetherness, taking classes, learning, growing together — that’s a really big deal,” she said.
Some of United Way of Utah County’s other programs include a digital inclusion course which helps people increase their computer skills, a free information helpline with resources for pregnant parents and families with children 8 and under, and the well-known Sub for Santa program.
You can learn more about the United Way of Utah County and their diverse set of programs here.