Free Federal Tax Return Preparation Service Offered By United Way Vita Program Volunteers

Submitted By: Patrice Cunningham

Tax Season has officially opened, and United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades’ free tax filing assistance program is ready to assist Lehigh Acres residents keep more of their hard-earned money. The United Way VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program provides free federal tax filing services, at both Lehigh Community Services and Goodwill, to individuals and families making less than $66,000 per year. This program will be a valuable resource during the 2022 filing season to many of whom were hard hit by the pandemic and continue to struggle with having enough resources to meet their financial obligations.

Each tax return is prepared by an IRS certified volunteer who must pass an annual, comprehensive exam before preparing a single tax return. They are trained to determine if the taxpayers are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), recovery rebates, education, child tax, and/or childcare credits while helping individuals and families save for more important things like rent, utilities, and food instead of having to pay $250 to $300 in tax preparation fees.

Lehigh Community Services will be open for traditional appointments Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings and all-day Saturday, as well as Tuesdays from 9-3 for the valet drop-off service. Goodwill is open on Wednesdays from 9am-2pm for traditional appointments.  Appointments are required and can be made by calling 2-1-1 or (239) 433-3900, or scheduling online at

It is suggested that clients bring both their 2019 and 2020 tax returns to this year’s appointments along with:

  • Total Amount of any Advanced Child Tax Credits received July-December.
  • Total paid to day care provider and their tax ID number, name and address—even if taxpayers haven’t been able to claim the credit in the past.
  • Amount of 3rd stimulus payment –issued mid-March 2021 to persons who qualified.
  • Total cash donations for Charitable Contributions. Taxpayers can deduct up to $300 for cash contributions to qualifying charities ($600 for married couples filing jointly).

Despite many challenges last year, over 1,400 individuals and families in Lehigh Acres were able to utilize the free United Way VITA tax preparation program. Refunds combined with tax preparation fees saved, resulted in over a $2.5 Million impact to our local economy.

United Way also offers a no contact, 100% virtual, option using  which is simple and secure. Using a smart phone or computer, tax filers answer simple questions about their situation and securely upload their tax documents. The VITA team prepares the tax return, speaks with the tax filer to review their return, and e-files the return once the tax filer e-signs the consent.  And, for those that prefer to file their taxes themselves, United Way provides free of charge.

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