The Free Tax Prep (FTP) Coalition is a partnership of nonprofit, education, and government organizations operating Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites in Southwestern PA. The Coalition is sponsored by the United Way of Southwestern PA and managed by Just Harvest. VITA sites are hosted by nonprofit and university partners throughout Southwest PA.
Every year – thanks to hundreds of dedicated volunteers, we help thousands of low-income families access millions of dollars in tax credits. The number of people we help keeps going up every year because every year we have more volunteers! You have joined an amazing coalition that's making a huge impact on our community.
Lots of people run away from taxes, but not you! We're so glad you're here to learn more and make a difference in your community. The training commitment is significant, but the rewards are great. This is really a unique opportunity to meet one on one with diverse members of our community and learn from them while you help complete their return. You'll soon learn why many of our volunteers get hooked on taxes and return year after year. At the tax site you'll work with a team of staff and volunteers and find that taxes can really be fun when you work together!
The answer is simple: the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) do more to lift working families out of poverty than any other program in the country. This critical safety net measure lifts over 10.6 million Americans out of poverty; in 2018, about half of them were children. It reduced poverty for nearly 24 million Americans, 6.4 million of whom were children.
For many of the people we serve, the EITC provides more than 40% of their annual income. It’s just not fair that they should have to pay a private tax prep company $200+ every year to access a public benefit that could lift them out of poverty. Worse, those who receive for-profit tax assistance are often encouraged to make poor financial decisions like getting their refund right away – in the form of a hefty high-cost short-term loan.
During the 2022 tax season, we engaged 270 volunteers in preparing over 7,000 tax returns, delivering $13.6 million in refunds back to Southwestern PA residents and saving them $1.5 million in tax prep fees. Volunteers connecting low-income households to their full tax refunds make a huge difference in our community.