Just Harvest is boosting the paychecks of low-income workers by providing free tax preparation assistance. Many low-income people are eligible for tax credits and other refunds if they file their tax return. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the nation's largest anti-poverty program, and can increase a family's annual income by as much as 45%. Unfortunately, many people do not know about the tax credits they are entitled to, or lose much of the refunds to commercial tax preparers in preparation fees and advance refund loans. These workers are entitled to these refunds and they should not have to pay to file for them.
Launched in 2003, our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site is now one of the biggest programs in the state, and our work has been recognized by the IRS for outstanding service. In 2010, we helped over 2,200 people file their taxes, getting them almost $4.5 million in refunds--our highest ever. Part of the program's success comes from our close targeting of low-income people. The median income of participants was just under $13,000, and half were eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Expansions in 2010 included opening a new tax site at CCAC Boyce Campus and offering limited service at Prospect Park Family Center in Baldwin for refugee and immigrant families.
Just Harvest coordinates the local Money in Your Pocket Coalition, a collaboration of organizations providing free tax help in our region, and provides technical assistance to other free tax sites in our region through a contract with the United Way of Allegheny County.
The Give Paychecks a Boost program is a volunteer-intensive effort that could use your help! Volunteer tax preparers are recruited in the fall and trained in January for the upcoming tax season. Contact Kristie Weiland Stagno at 412-431-8960 for more information.
If you are an individual who made up to $20,000 in tax year 2012 (or have a family income of up to $40,000), you may be eligible to have your taxes done free of charge – to schedule your tax appointment for any site (including our South Side office), call Southwest PA 2-1-1 (just dial "2-1-1") or 412-255-1155. Please make sure that you have your W-2 prior to calling to schedule!
For more information tax credits and how they benefit you, click here.
To find out more about specific state and federal tax policies, contact us or visit the Internal Revenue Service (Federal) or Department of Revenue (State).