Jerry Jenkins shifts her weight in a folding metal chair and starts to get comfortable as she waits to hear her name called. She peers out over the top of a blue facemask and holds the content of a manila file folder securely in her lap.

Jenkins is waiting to be called next to the desk at this Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) center at the West End Mall in Atlanta. The room of an old retail shop in the corner of the mall has been taken over by a team of masked volunteers sitting at desks divided by clear partitions, in front of chairs evenly-spaced out and routinely wiped down and sprayed with Lysol.

Each year, United Way of Greater Atlanta provides free tax preparation services to the community through a partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The VITA program provides people in Greater Atlanta and their families these services for those with low-to-moderate income, and those tax services are done by IRS-trained professionals and certified volunteers.VITA participant on St. Patrick's Day

These physical locations are usually packed throughout the week, but things have obviously changed this year because of the Coronavirus pandemic and guidelines put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

VITA is designed to make sure you take home all of your tax refund without worrying about fees. That’s what brought Jenkins, who is decked out in full green from head to toe on St. Patrick’s Day, here to this site—well, that, and her daughter Stephanie Sanchez, who physically brought her to the site.

“I had no experience with this [VITA] before,” Jenkins says. “But I had heard about it through my daughter. I’ve done programs like this with AARP in the past.”

The COVID-19 pandemic had changed the typical plans for what these VITA locations and other similar programs may have done in the past, but Jenkins says she knew she could feel safe coming to this site on the Westside.

“I felt like I could come here and be more secure, and feel secure giving them my information—plus, it’s free,” she says with a laugh.

Jenkins and Sanchez have lived in the Atlanta area their entire lives, and Sanchez says she has continually taken advantage of the free services offered by United Way. She’s familiar with United Way and had worked with different children’s programs in the past that had been partners with United Way of Greater Atlanta, she says.

“For one, it’s free; two, you feel safe,” Sanchez says. “You can trust that they are experienced, and you can feel safe giving them your information.”

Jim Currie is one of the volunteers at this site at West End Mall who ensures safety and security at this VITA location. Currie is a technology consultant and makes sure all of the computers, printers and other equipment are operating efficiently.

He’s been doing this for about 12 years—he got his start in this specific role with the Atlanta Community Food Bank before merging with United Way, he says.

“I’m here to make sure that all of the equipment works and that we have a process to get people in and out,” Currie says.

Currie, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, is 90 years old—he’ll turn 91 in July— and after his time in the military, Currie worked for IBM for 22 years. He says he wants to volunteer with VITA for “as long as [he] can.”

In his 12 years volunteering, a lot has changed, but no year has been quite like this one, he says.

“It’s different—It’s different because of the virus.” he says. “But one thing we want to make sure of is that everyone feels safe. It’s a safe environment, people are wearing masks, keeping their distance and they’ll take care of you.

The attention put on safety, security and the overall professionalism is what brought Sanchez back again, this time with her mother.

It’s been a difficult year, of course, and filing your taxes is more important than ever. This year, because of CDC guidelines for COVID-19, VITA is serving Greater Atlanta with free virtual tax prep opportunities as well as free limited in-person tax prep, by appointment only. You can also do it yourself with help from an IRS-Certified Volunteer.

“It’s important to me to get the most out of [your tax return] as you can,” Sanchez says. “I mean, it’s the law, you have to file your taxes every year. You want to get it done where you can feel safe—there are so many scams out there, and you don’t want to just hand out your information to anybody.

“Overall, VITA has been very convenient for me.”

On March 17, the IRS announced an extension of Tax Day to May 17. Take the time now to learn more about VITA, the Earned Income Tax Credit and how you can find an in-person drop-off at a number of locations across Greater Atlanta.

United Way also partners with My Free Taxes so you can file personally from your own home.

Updated May 18, 2021

United Way of Greater Atlanta provides free tax preparation services to the community through a partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides Greater Atlanta’s working individuals and families free tax prep to low-to-moderate income ($57,000 and under). Taxes are prepared by IRS trained and certified volunteers. We want you to keep ALL your tax refund. Why pay $250 – $500 to get your taxes prepared when you can have them prepared by an IRS certified Volunteer for FREE!

This year, filing your taxes is more important than ever. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a tax credit for low and moderate-income wage earners. For the 2021 tax year, the earned income credit ranges from $543 to $6,728 depending on tax-filing status and number of children. Learn how much you can receive using the EITC Assistant.

This year, due to CDC guidelines for COVID-19, VITA is serving Greater Atlanta with free virtual tax prep opportunities as well as free limited in-person tax prep, by appointment only. You can also do it yourself with help from an IRS-Certified Volunteer.

Choose the Filing Option That Works Best for You

Get Your Refund

  • Free Virtually Tax Prep by a certified IRS Volunteer at www.GetYourRefund.org/uwga
  • Online, mobile-friendly application connecting tax filers with free, IRS-certified tax help.
  • Anyone with a household income of $57,000 a year or less is eligible.
  • IRS-certified volunteers work with you to prepare and file your State and Federal tax returns.

My Free Taxes

  • Do It Yourself Virtual Free Tax Prep at www.MyFreeTaxes.com
  • Do it yourself (with help if needed)! Prepare and file your own State and Federal tax return for Free.
  • Tax help available if needed from an IRS-certified Volunteer if your income is $57,000 a year or less.
  • Free and secure software. Learn more.

Local VITA Tax Prep Site

  • By appointment only. Email VITA@unitedwayatlanta.org for more information.

Required Documents

View our checklist to see all documents required to file your taxes. If you are missing a document, follow the links in the checklist to obtain a copy.

 

Need additional information? Contact VITA@unitedwayatlanta.org

United Way of Greater Atlanta is involved in helping people improve their financial stability by connecting them with financial coaching, financial education, job training and free tax filing.

  • United Way’s free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides Greater Atlanta’s working individuals and families help to simplify the tax filing process and claim important tax credits. VITA is a national initiative of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that offers FREE tax help to low- to moderate-income ($56,000 and under) individuals and families. Taxes are prepared in–person by IRS trained and certified volunteers.
  • VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, churches, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. To find a VITA site near you, click here or call 2-1-1.
  • If you’re over the age of 50, you can get one-on-one assistance by IRS-certified volunteers at 5,000 Tax-Aide sites run by AARP. Tax-Aide site are in neighborhood libraries, malls, banks, community centers and senior centers. There’s no fee and no sales pitch for other services. AARP membership is not required. Find a location near you.If you earn less than $69,000, you can file for free through IRS Free File, a partnership between the agency and the Free File Alliance, a group of private preparers. Click here for more details on the program. Each company has a slightly different free offering, so be sure to read the eligibility requirements to make sure you can file your state return free of charge as well. A number of companies will prepare a state return and e-file it at no cost through partnerships with participating state programs.If your income is more than $69,000, you can use the Free Fillable File Forms, an electronic versions of IRS paper forms. But that doesn’t include the software help available through Free File.
  • If you’re in the military, you can use MilTax, a service provided by the Department of Defense that uses a version of H&R Block’s tax software. It’s free to active-duty service members, those in the National Guard or Reserves, and their families. There are no income or tax form restrictions.
  • For people who have W-2 income only and a simple return, you can file federal and up to three state returns for free online with MyFreeTaxes®. MyFreeTaxes.com is a partnership between United Way and H&R Block. Simple tax situations covered for free in MyFreeTaxes include: W-2 income; limited interest and dividend income reported on a 1099-INT or 1099-DIV; student education expenses, credits or student loan interest; unemployment income; claiming the standard deduction; EITC; child tax credits; child and dependent care expenses.You can also take advantage of helpful tools such as calculators, error checkers and online chats, plus a free help line operating daily from 10 am-10 pm ET with IRS-trained staff who speak both English and Spanish.

    Unfortunately, MyFreeTaxes no longer provides a free return to filers who are self-employed. Self-employed filers will need to report all of their income and expenses on a Schedule C form, which is not included in the MyFreeTaxes software. If you are self-employed, and wish to use MyFreeTaxes to file your taxes, you will be charged $24.99 for a federal return and $18.50 for each state return (a 50% discount on H&R Block’s usual fees).

Apply by September 27, 2019 to become a VITA site in 2020! United Way is inviting organizations interested in becoming VITA sites to submit an application for funding. Partners will be provided with funding and support to provide free tax preparation at locations across the region.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a more than 40-year running, national IRS program where trained and certified volunteers prepare tax returns for low income families according to IRS guidelines. United Way of Greater Atlanta in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) leads a coalition of approximately 30 organizations that promotes and supports free tax preparation. Free tax preparation supports United Way’s goal to build a stronger future for greater Atlanta by supporting the well-being of its children, the families that support them and the community that surrounds them.

The exact funds available will be based on IRS funding for the VITA program. Awards to specific partners will depend upon details of the funding available from the IRS and the review of applications including performance targets from new and existing VITA partners.

Download the Request For Applications here.

#WhyWednesday: Economy Jackson

“It’s part of my mission; it’s part of who I am.”

Economy Jackson, United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Associate Director of Income, explains why she loves working to improve the financial stability of families in Greater Atlanta

Many low income and working-class families in the Greater Atlanta area do not have enough “bankability” to achieve goals like qualifying for a mortgage or funding higher education and improve their credit. Interested in learning more about financial stability? Making Wages Work leverages the expertise of financial services professionals to help Greater Atlanta’s low-income and working-class families build the financial literacy they need to achieve their goals. Learn more about Making Wages Work here.

Tax season is here, but that doesn’t mean getting your taxes done has to be complicated, and it also doesn’t have to be expensive.

Our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program sites provide Greater Atlanta’s working individuals and families help to simplify the tax filing process and claim important tax credits.

VITA tax preparation is free for households with an income of $55,000 or less, and taxes are prepared in–person by IRS trained and certified volunteers.

Just confirm that you fit the above income qualifications, choose the VITA location that’s most convenient for you and call our 2–1–1 center to confirm the hours of operation for your chosen location.

VITA Tax Preparation Locations
This year, VITA is serving Greater Atlanta with over 30 free tax preparation locations.

Clayton County

  • St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church – 591 Flint River Rd. Jonesboro, GA 30238
  • Clayton State University – 2800 Clayton State Blvd, Morrow 30260

Cobb County

  • Schaffer Road Church of Christ – 554 Schaffer Road, Marietta 30060
  • Osborne High School – 2451 Favor Road, Marietta 30060
  • Turner Chapel AME Church – 492 North Marietta Pkwy, Marietta 30060

DeKalb County

  • Beulah Baptist Church – 2340 Clifton Springs Road, Decatur 30034
  • Hillcrest Church Of Christ – 1939 Snapfinger Road, Decatur 30035
  • IRC – 2305 Parkdale Dr. NE., Atlanta 30345
  • Saint Philip AME Church – 240 Candler Road SE, Atlanta 30317
  • St. Vincent De Paul, Chamblee – 2050–C Chamblee Tucker Road, Chamblee 30341
  • Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) – 3510 Shallowford Road Chamblee, GA 30341

Gwinnett County

  • Buford One Stop – 2755 Sawnee Avenue Buford, GA 30518
  • Buford Human Services One Stop – 2755 Sawnee Avenue, Buford 30518
  • Gwinnett Math and Science Library – 970 McElvaney Lane, Lawrenceville 30044
  • Lilburn Library –4817 Church Street, Lilburn 30047
  • Norcross Library – 6025 Buford Highway, Norcross 30071
  • Snellville Library – 2740 Lenora Church, Snellville 30078
  • Suwanee Library –361 Main Street, Suwanee 30024
  • BPSOS – 6107 Oakbrook Parkway, Norcross 30093

Fulton County

  • Atlanta Technical College, 1599 Metropolitan Parkway SW, Atlanta, 30310
  • IRS – 4800 Buford Highway, Chamblee 30341
  • Cristo Rey, 222 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta 30308
  • Community Assistance Center – 1130 Hightower Trail, Sandy Springs, GA 30350
  • Ebenezer Baptist Church/MLK Collaborative – 101 Jackson Avenue, Atlanta 30312
  • Greenbriar Mall – LOCATION PENDING
  • Gladys S. Dennard Library of South Fulton, 4055 Flat Shoals Road, Union City 30291
  • North Fulton Community Charities – 11255 Elkins Road, Roswell 30076
  • The Sullivan Center – 1700 Lakewood Ave., Atlanta 30315
  • The Year of Jubliee FS, 216 Valley Hill Road SW., Riverdale 30274
  • West End Mall – 850 Oak Street SW, Atlanta 30310

Paulding County

  • St. Vincent De Paul, Dallas – 651 W. Memorial Drive, Dallas 30132

VITA tax preparation site times are subject to change. For the most recent location listings and hours of availability, call 2-1-1 or reference the online 2-1-1 database at 211online.unitedwayatlanta.org.

 

United Way of Greater Atlanta is hosting a VITA Request for Application Orientation session designed to assist you with your VITA sub grant application.

The orientation will take place Thursday, August 23 from 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Please take the time to review the application package thoroughly and come prepared to ask questions related to the application and/or process to become a VITA site.

If you plan to attend the session, please RSVP to vita@unitedwayatlanta.org.

We thank you for your interest in VITA and look forward to hearing from you soon.


Don’t forget these important dates!

  • Applications Due: Friday, August 31, 2018 by 3:00 p.m.
  • Grant Period: October 31, 2018 to May 31, 2019
  • Grants Notification: October 31, 2018