You know how the famous Benjamin Franklin saying goes—there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes. What if I told you there’s a third thing, too? Each year, you can get free tax assistance at United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA). Judy Allen, Director of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program at UWCA, shows us how to get started.
Do you qualify for free tax assistance at UWCA?
If you earn $54,000 or less per year you qualify for free tax assistance at UWCA. Even if you don’t fall into this category, chances are you have a child, parent or family member who does. The income guideline allows so many people in our city to enjoy the free service.
“The part that gives me so much joy in offering free tax assistance at UWCA is we get to meet some of the nicest people in Birmingham. They do all kinds of interesting different jobs in our community and kind, helpful things for community members. As we’re helping with their taxes we often get to chat about that.”Judy Allen
Whether it’s for you or someone you know, take a look at these simple steps for receiving help from trained experts.
Let’s take things step-by-step
- Dial 2-1-1 and a friendly volunteer will send you a link with information to start the process.
- Upload photographs of your documents and answer some questions online.
- Next, a volunteer preparer will contact you via telephone to go over your information.
- Once you’re good on that front, it’s time for a United Way volunteer to prepare the return.
- A second volunteer will then look over all those notes and review the return as if they were preparing it from scratch. They make sure everything is entered accurately and there are no missing pieces or other issues.
- After the volunteer finishes the review, they’ll call you to discuss the results of the return and answer questions you might have.
- You will receive a secure electronic copy of your completed return for you to sign online, providing United Way permission to file the return for you.
- Finally, using direct deposit, you can sit back and relax. Your refund will arrive in your bank account: no need to watch your mailbox!
What if I want to do my own taxes?
There’s help for that, too. For people who want to prepare their own taxes, UWCA provides free software.
“If there’s someone who’s got a simple return and is knowledgeable, we can connect them with free software to prepare their state and federal return. Many resources are only free for federal, but we have resources that are free for state as well.”Judy Allen
There’s more where that came from when it involves free tax assistance at UWCA
While the program has volunteer sites that focus intently during the traditional tax season, it’s a year-round program. So, if you have any questions that may arise later there’s always someone available to assist you.
Get free tax assistance at UWCA virtually this year
In the past, UWCA would have you come in person to go over your taxes. This year, they’ve worked hard to make the entire process virtual and accessible from a mobile smartphone. That’s right, you don’t even need a computer.
They were able to test it out and assist customers before the main tax season this year. In case you missed it, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced the nation’s tax season will start on Friday, February 12, 2021.
A process you can trust
We get it, handing over all this information can be scary. But it shouldn’t be when you work with UWCA. The organization adheres to very strict IRS information security and confidentiality to protect your information.
Additionally, UWCA trains all volunteers in the program. They undergo a background check and operate with help from UWCA’s qualified staff.
“All of our volunteers must complete and pass an IRS certification process each year. So, for example, they’ve studied and taken tests on all those new tax changes that came out this year to help people with the financial impact of the pandemic.”Judy Allen
Here every year
UWCA participates under the IRS program VITA—Voluntary Income Tax Assistance. They applied to host a VITA site in 2006 and have offered the free service every year for 15 years. The assistance helps thousands of Central Alabama residents, including a whopping 3,600 in 2019 alone.
“The service really gives people confidence that they’ve got someone to talk to. They may be knowledgeable about taxes, but they’re afraid they’re going to miss something.
We’ve also had customers who used another preparer before who maybe wasn’t as careful. They’ve had issues with identity theft or mistakes on the return that caused them headaches later and a lot of anxiety.”Judy Allen, Director of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, United Way of Central Alabama
Here for the right reasons
You can trust using free tax assistance at UWCA, because they’re doing it completely for the good of the community. It doesn’t cost a cent and they’re not trying to sell you any sort of software or program.
You may gain more than help on your taxes, too. Year after year the same individuals and families return, affirming Central Alabama residents appreciate UWCA’s service and support.
“I certainly feel if I had not got to work with the program 15 years ago it would’ve been a big loss. There are so many interesting, kind and generous people that live in our community.”Judy Allen
While you’re at it, see how else UWCA can help you today
Getting free tax assistance at UWCA is the ideal time to introduce yourself to all the ways the nonprofit can aid you or someone you know.
Maybe it’s encouraging an elderly family member to take advantage of their Meals on Wheels partnership program or getting help through their Financial and Housing Education services. Overall, UWCA is a frontrunner in being a helping hand for every kind of community member.
Call 2-1-1 to get started on your taxes and find out more information by visiting United Way of Central Alabama’s website, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.