In an effort to promote financial stability and asset building in our community, the Milwaukee Asset Building Coalition, together with VITA Volunteers/Staff who are IRS-certified, provide free income tax preparation assistance to low-to-moderate income families by accessing refundable credits such as child tax credit and Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC). Research shows that EITC lifts more children out of poverty than any federal program. According to the IRS, 25% of taxpayers who qualify for the credit do not apply for it.
Depending on your financial situation, you may be able to file your federal and state returns for free. In addition to free tax filing, our VITA program also assists individuals in other areas such as improving their financial stability by connecting them with financial coaching, financial education, job training and free tax filing.
For more than two decades, the Social Development Commission (SDC) has operated the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, providing FREE tax preparation and electronic filing services to individuals and families of Milwaukee County and surrounding neighbors with eligible household annual income. For this tax season, 2020 household annual income has to be $60,000 or less. The program is designed to provide taxpayers with a better option, avoiding very high tax preparation fees and giving them the opportunity to receive their full tax return, allowing them to redirect their returns to meet other household needs. The service provides families with a financial boost to begin saving for unexpected expenses, which would ultimately avoid predatory lending and promote emergency saving practices.
VITA is more than just FREE tax preparation. It promotes self-sufficiency through wealth building and debt-reduction outreach programs for those outside the financial mainstream. The program links interested clients to financial institutions at SDC “Super Site” locations. Financial institutions, which include banks and credit unions, provide information on the benefits of checking and savings accounts and open accounts on the spot. They also provide consultation on how to begin taking the steps to make that dream of home ownership, starting a business, or investing come true. In addition, clients have access to certified SDC staff who help identify qualifications for public health benefits, marketplace insurance enrollment options and assist with completing and processing applications.
Customers who access free tax services through SDC’s VITA program are able to learn about other services, including Weatherization Assistance, career training, or job placement services and connect with additional asset-building opportunities. This includes participation in financial workshops, receiving one-on-one coaching, and participating in first-time home buyer education. Many of these programs are available within SDC. Others are provided by community partners that collaborate with SDC to maximize our impact in the community. Customers learn about the availability of supportive services through informational (multilingual) flyers, posters, and brochures, posts on various social media platforms that tell the stories of how our customers are impacted, and through the collaborative efforts of SDC with other community agencies that also serve low-income residents.