One very effective way United Way of Erie County is helping to bolster family stability is through Erie FREE Taxes. Through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), Erie FREE Taxes provides free tax preparation service to Erie County tax filers and ensures 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. To those eligible, 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 has demonstrated strength as a family and community economic development tool. In 2021, despite the ongoing pandemic, Erie FREE Taxes volunteer tax preparers were responsible for returning $8.9 million in federal refunds back to the Erie community, while saving filers an estimated $13 million in commercial tax preparation fees.
Thanks to sponsorship from KeyBank, United Way Erie FREE Taxes Super Saturday was held on January 21 to officially launch the 2023 filing season! Pictured above are Allegheny College student volunteer Maricarmen Cervantes with a tax filer.
New for 2023 is the addition of two additional site partnerships: Fairview High School under the supervision of site coordinator Matt Greene, and Meadville Public Library under the supervision of Gabrielle Miller and Beth Ryan; bringing the total number of VITA sites this season to 19.
Erie FREE Taxes program director Marybelle Martin stated, “We are excited to have formed partnerships with both of these sites, as they allow us to tap into resources that we haven’t had before, and also to provide services in different localities.” Martin went on to note Mr. Green’s high school students successfully prepared and filed returns last year; and the Meadville site will continue to be staffed by trained and certified student volunteers from Allegheny College.
A complete list of the 2023 VITA sites, the method of tax preparation, and the days and hours of operation can be found on our website.