United Way seeking volunteers to assist low-wage earning workers with taxes


Photo Credit: (MGN Online)

Michael Delehanty, Contributor

PITTSBURGH – United Way of Southwestern PA is looking for 500 volunteers to help with their 2020 Free Tax Preparation Campaign. The goal of the campaign is to assist hard-working, low-wage earning individuals and families to make sure that they receive the full refunds that they are entitled to.

“A tax refund can have a significant impact on a low-income family, which can mean the difference between putting food on the table, keeping the heat on, and having transportation to get to work — or not,” said Alena Anderson, United Way of Southwestern PA’s United for Families program manager. “Many people come to us unaware of the tax credits or refunds available to them. Our volunteers play an important role in identifying tax benefits and helping secure these critical refunds.”

Volunteers do not need to have any prior knowledge of tax preparation to help out during the season, running from January to mid-April. For those who do not have any prior knowledge or experience, United Way has partnered with the IRS to provide both in-person and online training and resources. Continuing education credits will be available to professionals and internship opportunities will be offered to students.

“Taxes can be confusing for people, which can be a barrier to completing returns,” Anderson continued. “Our volunteers — from retirees to students, people starting out in their careers or those more seasoned — are trained to make tax preparation less intimidating. And because it’s free of charge, qualifying taxpayers can apply more of their refunds toward basic needs. We’ve seen people break into tears of relief when they see the refund coming their way. It’s amazing the difference it can make.”

Last year, there were 494 volunteers that prepared 10,645 tax returns, which came to $15,409,452 in refunds throughout the region. Also, the volunteers helped the families and individuals to obtain their Earned Income Tax Credit.

The deadline for volunteers to sign up is Jan. 1, 2020. Volunteers are needed at sites in Allegheny, Westmoreland, Fayette, Greene and Washington counties. People wanting to get involved can sign up here.