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How to file your taxes for free with the help of VITA and Walmart/United Way

Like death, taxes are one thing you can count on and preparing taxes can be a trying experience especially if you haven't kept up with the numerous tax credits that are available. Thankfully the IRS has partnered with volunteers to provide free tax preparation assistance to individuals making less than $42,000 through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Additionally, the Walmart Foundation is also helping taxpayers by providing a $3.6 million grant to help taxpayers earning less than $56,000 file their taxes correctly.

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For the most part, using the VITA program for tax preparation assistance is no different than going to H&R Block -- other than the fact that you'll save $130! There's no need to for any special paperwork to file your taxes through the VITA program, just the standard tax documents, a list of which can be found at the IRS VITA program page. Additionally when you file with the help of a VITA volunteer it shouldn't take any longer than filing at a tax prep company and in many cases will be faster than doing it yourself.VITA isn't the only program out there to help low and moderate income taxpayers file correctly. The Walmart Foundation has partnered with the United Way and One Economy to offer tax preparation to taxpayers making less than $56,000. By opening up the program to individuals who would typically be ineligible for VITA the partnership is filling an important void in taxpayer assistance programs. A major focus of this effort will be to help more taxpayers properly claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) which 20% of taxpayers don't know they are eligible for.

To find out when you can get the assistance from this program visit MyFreeTaxes.com and find out when a Mobile Tax Van will be at a Walmart near you. If you can't wait or there isn't a Mobile Tax Center coming to your city you can still learn more about the Earned Income Tax Credit or get help filling your taxes online at MyFreeTaxes.com.

On top of this partnership many United Way locations are working with community members to provide similar services. To find out what's happening in your community visit LiveUnited.org and enter your zip code for the local website and contact info.

Just because the service is free doesn't mean the help is sub par. WalletPop's resident CPA, Tracey Coenen, has previously covered the VITA program noting the special training in tax credits that VITA volunteers receive, noting that volunteers need to demonstrate a solid understanding of tax credits and procedures before they can be certified. Many college students who participate in the program report spending as much time getting certified as they do preparing for finals.

To find a VITA location near you call 1-800-829-1040 and schedule your appointment today.

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