HISPANIC UNITY OF FLORIDA LAUNCHES VIRTUAL BROWARD TAX PRO PROGRAM
Telephone hotline, virtual version of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program now available for Broward County residents
Hispanic Unity of Florida (HUF), a Hollywood-based nonprofit organization that serves diverse and multi-cultural working families from the United States and more than 30 other countries, today announced the launch of the virtual/online version of its highly successful Broward Tax Pro/VITA program. The tax preparation assistance program is available in English and Spanish, and soon will be available in Haitian Creole.
HUF is partnering with Code for America, a nonprofit organization that believes government can work for the people, and by the people, in the digital age, starting with the people who need it most. Code for America created the digital platform, Get Your Refund, for the 2020 tax
For more than 18 years, HUF has partnered with 40+ community partners to provide no-cost tax preparation services to thousands of qualified Broward County residents through its volunteer- and partner-driven Broward Tax Pro/Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The 2020 edition of the program is only available virtually through an online platform, for the health, safety and well-being of the community it serves.
Qualified taxpayers can upload their documents via a secure website by visiting www.VITAtaxesfree.org. After uploading the necessary information, visitors to the site will be contacted within 24 hours by a Broward Tax Pro/VITA staff member to complete the tax return, and submit it to the IRS for processing.
Another facet of this year’s program is a Tax Hotline (954-678-6882) that serves as an informational and referral hub to provide support for the virtual/online tax preparation service.
The Hotline is available to answer questions regarding stimulus checks and other frequently asked, general tax questions.
The Tax Hotline is available Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and is closed on Sundays. The Hotline’s customer service representatives are certified tax professionals, who can help callers through the online process, and assist with any current, general tax questions in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole.
“The situation with COVID-19 required Hispanic Unity of Florida to close all of its Broward Tax Pro/VITA sites to safeguard the health and safety of the staff and community,” said Josie Bacallao, president and CEO of Hispanic Unity of Florida. “We are very happy to participate in this digital pilot program for a virtual/online tax preparation model, which provides a continuity of service for our clients.”
To qualify for the zero-cost program, Broward County families, or individuals, must make less than $66,000 per year.
Clients who meet the requirement will have the expertise of a skilled, IRS-certified tax professional to prepare his/her tax return. The tax professionals who are a part of this program understand clients’ needs, and speak their language (English, Spanish or Haitian Creole).
“The virtual version of the Broward Tax Pro/VITA program is the same quality as the previous, in-person program,” added Bacallao. “Clients should feel confident about submitting their tax information through our safe, secure and encrypted website provided in partnership with Code for America.”
About Tax Pro/VITA Program
The Broward Tax Pro/VITA program is funded through the generosity of several large corporations, along with the Children’s Services Council of Broward County, United Way of Broward County, CITI, the Internal Revenue Service and many more.
About Hispanic Unity of Florida, Inc. (HUF)
Hispanic Unity of Florida (HUF) is a nonprofit organization founded 38 years ago by community leaders to ease the acculturation transition for newcomers from other nations. Today, HUF provides assistance through 12 programs and more than 30 services in four languages to South Florida’s diverse community. HUF, an UnidosUS Affiliate, is one of South Florida’s largest agencies dedicated to the immigrant population, providing them with the tools they need to build a new life. In 2019, the agency served more than 15,000 children and families. HUF offers assistance at three main office locations, and provides extended services at more than 50 outreach locations.
About Code for America
Code for America is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that believes government can work for the people, and by the people, in the digital age, starting with the people who need it most. Code for America builds digital services that enhance government capabilities, and helps others do the same across all levels of government. It organizes thousands of volunteers across nearly 80 chapters nationwide who improve government in their local communities. Code for America’s goal: A 21st century government that effectively and equitably serves all Americans. Learn more at www.codeforamerica.org.
Code for America is partnering with VITA organizations across the country to pilot a digital VITA service for the 2020 tax season, with the hope that this model will allow VITA to make tax prep accessible online to more clients, and help close the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) participation gap.