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For many, tax season is a chore and we are relieved that another April 15th has come and gone. For others, tax season is a time to celebrate the chance to help others.

That’s right. For some United Way volunteers, January through mid-April is a time when they know that their volunteering is making a huge difference in the lives of struggling families. These volunteers signed up last fall to be part of the VITA program (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), which helps low-income people receive the tax refunds they are due.

For example, since 2004, volunteers for United Way of Palm Beach County’s VITA Program have helped more than 68,000 households claim more than $108 million in Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other tax refunds. Research shows that taxpayers receiving refunds through returns processed at VITA sites use their refunds for many purposes such as paying off debt, investing in education or housing, or opening a bank account. This is new money for low-income taxpayers, and for the local economy. Some VITA sites in Palm Beach County – and hundreds of other sites across the country -- offer weeknight and weekend hours, making the service – and the opportunity to volunteer -- more convenient for those who work during the day.

One in four eligible families fails to claim the EITC each year. You don’t have to be a tax expert to help. Contact your local United Way to find out more. Sign up to receive training in the fall. And this time next year, you’ll be celebrating the tax season and the chance to help a deserving family.