By: Kathlyn Russo
Earn it! Keep it! Save it! (EKS), a program of United Way Bay Area (UWBA), provides free tax preparation for low- to moderate-income individuals and families. Last year, more than 2,000 trained volunteers provided free tax preparation for more than 70,000 households, bringing in more than $80 million in refunds to our local economy and back into Bay Area taxpayer pockets.
Taxes are prepared through a coalition of nonprofits, churches, and family resource centers, serving as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. Typically, VITA sites serve taxpayers through offering in-person appointments in which individuals have their taxes prepared by an IRS certified volunteer.
“To charge for it [tax preparation] is almost criminal in my eyes — especially the population that we serve,” said Chris Ybarra, Site Coordinator at Diablo Valley College.
This year, EKS is offering a more convenient free service for busy individuals — Virtual Drop Off. The service allows tax filers to drop off their taxes virtually at select intake sites throughout the Bay Area. These sites upload a client’s taxes into a secure cloud storage system and outsource them to a site that is dedicated to tax preparation. The completed tax return is then sent back to the intake site where the client can pick it up at their earliest convenience.
“Taxes are truly made easy this year,” said Kelly Batson, SVP of Community Impact with UWBA. “EKS hopes to serve an additional 3,000 people with this exciting new service.”
Learn more: http://earnitkeepitsaveit.org/.