United Way Fights Poverty with Taxes

SRQ Story Project Partner Spotlight


Nearly 20% of all Floridians who qualify for the EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) federal credit don’t know to apply for it on their tax return. It’s a startling figure given the EITC is one of the most effective anti-poverty tools enacted, often returning thousands of dollars to low-to-moderate income households.

This past tax season, Suncoast’s VITA program in Sarasota/Desoto grew 8% over the prior year, exceptional considering VITA programs across the country experienced a decline. In Sarasota/Desoto nearly 2,000 tax returns were prepared, resulting in an estimated $384,000 in preparation fee savings and $2.4 million in tax refunds for Sarasota residents, including over $800,000 in Earned Income Tax Credits.  These are funds that go directly into the pockets of local, hard-working families who need it most and provide a boost to the local economy.

This is one of the primary reasons United Way Suncoast organizes and funds the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program in our community. Through VITA, hundreds of volunteers, from retirees to student, and homemakers to professionals, receive free training and IRS certification to prepare tax returns to help some of our most vulnerable citizens. 

VITA volunteers are being sought now and VITA tax sites will open in January for individuals earning less than $66,000 annually.  VITA is a key pillar in United Way Suncoast’s mission to fight for the education and financial stability of every person in our community.

United Way Suncoast

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