Through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), Erie FREE Taxes provides free tax preparation service to Erie County tax filers and ensures that every eligible filer claims the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC, one of our county’s most effective anti-poverty tools, lifts more than 8 million adults and children above the poverty line. It provides a cash credit that boosts incomes of low-to-moderate income workers, helping them meet their basic needs. For those who receive the credit, it may enable them to save for emergencies, pay down debt, or put a down payment on a home.
Since 2007, Erie FREE Taxes Program has demonstrated strength as a family and community economic development tool. 2019 was a milestone year for the program, having reached a program value of over $100 million. Erie FREE Taxes volunteer tax preparers are responsible for returning $88 million in federal refunds while saving filers an estimated $13 million in commercial tax preparation fees.
By providing free tax preparation and access to the Earned Income Tax Credit, United Way Erie FREE Taxes has assisted thousands of Erie County residents to become more financially stable and to begin a path towards self-sufficiency. The program is a key example of United Way of Erie County living its mission, to Crush Poverty, and to increase the well-being of Erie County families and neighborhoods.