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CINCINNATI (5/10/2017) — Over $20 million in tax refunds were returned to local families in the Greater Cincinnati region, thanks to United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s Regional Volunteer Tax Assistance Collaborative. Nearly 17,000 federal tax returns have been prepared in 2017 for local families at sites across Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana. Collaborative partners include United Way of Greater Cincinnati, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program, the Ohio Benefit Bank and the Internal Revenue Service.

Within the collaborative, United Way is the local organizing partner for the national Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, whose 500 trained, certified VITA volunteers help individuals and families file federal and state income tax returns. MyFreeTaxes, a free online program is also offered for tax filers to prepare their own returns. Free tax preparation saved individuals and families an average of $273 in tax preparation costs per return while helping them receive refunds from tax withholding or the refundable the Earned Income Credit (EITC).

“Thousands of local families are more financially sound, thanks to this service. The EITC is our nation’s largest anti-poverty tool. It reduces the tax burden on low-wage workers, supplements wages, reduces income inequality, and helps families build assets,” said Lucy Crane, Community Impact Director, United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

Over the thirteen-week tax season, volunteers have personally seen how VITA, the EITC and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) help families and fight poverty. At the year end volunteer celebration, volunteers urged Senators to continue federal funding for the VITA program and these critical tax credits. As one VITA volunteer wrote: “This was my first year as a volunteer for VITA, and I met many people (my neighbors) who needed the EITC and CTC. Please keep them!”

VITA Volunteers also relish the direct one-on-one service: “I helped a woman whose husband had been in early stages of dementia, but passed away suddenly due to an accident. My dad had dementia and passed away a couple years ago. I know that me figuring out death and taxes was a great help to my mom. I’m glad that I could offer the same support for a VITA client.”

Many local companies supported the effort by volunteering, hosting and adopting tax preparation sites. Accounting firm EY recruited corporate volunteers and provided extensive training and support. GE Aviation and Kroger hosted tax sites, and Fifth Third, Park National, Union Savings and Huntington Banks provided dedicated groups of volunteers. Macy’s and IRS Cincinnati Service Center volunteers ran closed sites to assist their co-workers.
Non-profit organizations sponsoring sites include Brighton Center; Center for Great Neighborhoods; four Community Action Agencies, Healing Center; Price Hill Will and Santa Maria Community Services. Universities participating included Gateway Community and Technical College, Xavier, University of Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky University and Thomas More college. Funders for the initiative include United Way of Greater Cincinnati, United Way Worldwide, H&R Block, First Financial Bank, Internal Revenue Service, Key Bank, PNC Bank, Republic Bank, and SC Ministry Foundation.

Tax preparation services will continue over the summer and fall for individuals needing to file after the tax deadline.

About the Regional Volunteer Tax Assistance Collaborative
The Regional Volunteer Tax Assistance Collaborative, led by United Way of Greater Cincinnati, is a coalition of business, nonprofit and government partners helping eligible wage earners in Southwestern Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Southeastern Indiana receive quality tax preparation and wealth-building opportunities to strengthen their financial stability. Regional partners in delivering free tax preparation include VITA, the IRS, AARP, Ohio Benefit Bank and United Way. Learn more at




CINCINNATI, OH: Each year, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program puts billions of dollars back in the pockets of low-income taxpayers nationwide. March 15, 2017, midway through the tax filing season, marks national VITA Awareness Day. Over 500 volunteers are helping tax filers in Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky, Southeast Indiana and online through a partnership between United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Ohio Benefits Bank, AARP and the IRS.

The VITA program leverages the power of volunteerism and community engagement to bring together volunteers, tax filers, community organizations, corporations and government for this important work. In 2016, the program brought $23.4 million in refunds back to the community; for 2017 we are halfway to the goal with five weeks remaining in tax season.

The VITA program builds financial stability for working families with children by helping them claim the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). The IRS estimates that one in five eligible workers does not claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, missing out on thousands of dollars they’ve earned. To claim these benefits, workers must file their taxes.

“The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit provide critical work supports for employees earning low to moderate wages.” said Lucy Crane, director, community impact, United Way of Greater Cincinnati. “These credits can help families secure better housing, obtain dependable transportation, pay for quality child care, or pursue higher education.

“United Way’s key advocacy goal is to assure that any federal tax reform proposal maintains and expands this important program,” said Crane.

For more information about free tax preparation services, visit or call United Way 211 (Dial 2-1-1).

Important Notice regarding refund delay for low and moderate income families with children.

NEW IN 2017: Potential Refund Delays for EITC and CTC Recipients

Under legislation in the PATH ACT, passed by US Congress in December 2015, the IRS will delay tax refunds that include the EITC or the refundable part of the CTC (the ACTC)  until February 15, 2017. This will enable the IRS to verify information to help prevent identity theft and erroneous refunds.
What you need to know:





Over $23 million in tax refunds were returned to local families, thanks to the Regional Volunteer Tax Assistance Collaborative which provides free tax preparation services and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) outreach. Collaborative partners include United Way of Greater Cincinnati, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program, the Ohio Benefit Bank and the Internal Revenue Service.

More than 21,000 returns were prepared for local families at 93 sites across Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana – a 6 percent increase over last year.   Read more here  and here

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Tax Sites 2016

Tax sites are now open.  Click here for times, locations and other details.

Click here for information on what to bring to a tax site.

Click here for help doing your own taxes online from home!

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TEAM FAFSA helps families and students file for financial aid to make post-secondary education affordable.    Check out events throughout February and March to help you START HERE   GET THERE.

In the media:

SOAPBOX Story:  United Way leads effort for Earned Income Tax Credit awareness via free tax prep


In December 2015, Congress acted to make enhancements to the Earned Income Credit permanent.  This was the result of extensive advocacy.  What a victory for working families!