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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Urban League of Greater Chattanooga President Candy Johnson

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may change how the process works this year, but local volunteers are still preparing to provide free tax assistance and preparation for thousands of low- and moderate-income individuals or those with disabilities in the Chattanooga area over the next three months.

The Urban League of Greater Chattanooga and its community partners are launching the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program Friday at a dozen area sites to provide free assistance for those filling out their 2020 tax returns. The program is open to individuals and households whose incomes were less than $58,000 last year or to seniors, disabled persons, United Way members or those with limited English speaking skills.

"The VITA program is critical for individuals and families who would otherwise face significant difficulties navigating the tax process," said Candy Johnson, the president and CEO of Chattanooga's Urban League chapter. "We know tax preparation can be very confusing to navigate, particularly for our disadvantaged residents."

What to bring

* Your 2019 tax return

* Photo ID or driver’s license for each taxpayer, Social Security cards or ITIN cards for everyone on your return.

* W-2 forms and other income documentation

* IRS Form 1095-A if health insurance is purchased through the Marketplace Exchange

* Checkbook or bank account number if you want refund directly deposited to your bank account.

The Urban League has been training hundreds of volunteers since last November for the annual tax assistance program, which begins next week at a dozen sites across Southeast Tennessee. Due to the pandemic, those seeking tax help must either make an advance appointment or drop off their tax information, stay in their cars as they drop off forms and return after the volunteer has completed their tax returns. Masks also must be worn by participants in the program when dropping off and picking up all tax forms.

Last year, the local Urban League completed 11,760 tax returns for individuals throughout the area, according to program manager Val Palmer. She estimates that volunteers in 2020 helped local taxpayers save more than $3.8 million and receive more than $14.8 million in refunds and other returns.

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Volunteer Income Tax Assistance 2021 Site Locations

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"For many Chattanooga families, tax season can feel like a significant financial burden," said Palmer, the local VITA program coordinator. "Our mission in 2021 is to help break down the barriers of this process while adjusting how we operate to make sure our clients, volunteers and staff are safe."

VITA is sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service, the city of Chattanooga, United Way of Greater Chattanooga, the UT Extension Services and Tennessee America Saves.

More information about VITA and a list of filing locations and times is available at www.ulchatt.net/vita-tax-resources or persons may call the Urban League at 423-756-1762, 311 or 211. Additionally, informational tax preparation videos can be found at www.ulchatt.net or on the Chattanooga Urban League's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6340.

VITA sites for tax help

* Urban League office at 730 ML King Boulevard, Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.., and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Appointments only at (423) 805-2926.

* Northgate Mall kiosk, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Appointments only by calling (423) 313-3831.

* Northside Neighborhood House at 211 Minor St., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday. Appointments only at (423) 313-3831.

* Second Missionary Baptist Church, 2305 E. Third St., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday. Appointments only by calling (423) 267-2217.

Soddy-Daisy Senior Center, 190 Depot St., 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Appointments only at (423) 401-0055.

* Southern Adventist University, Suite 1500 Fleming Plaza in Collegedale, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Dropoffs only.

* City Fields at 1075 Blythe Ave., in Cleveland, Tennessee, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Appointments at (423) 584-5211.

* CrossNet Baptist Network, 795 Church St. NE in Cleveland, Tennessee, 2-5 p.m. Thursdays. Appointments at (423) 476-5493.

* Cleveland Public Library, 795 Church Street NE in Cleveland, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. Dropoffs only.

* Old National Guard Armory, 107 E. 10th Street in South Pittsburg, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Appointments only at (423) 580-0042.

* Orena Humphreys Public Library, 1130 N. Main Street in Whitwell, Tennessee, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. Appointments only at (423) 463-7148.

* 150 W. Rhea Avenue in Spring City, Tennessee, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays. Appointments at (423) 463-7148.

 
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